2000, R, 116 min. Directed by Wes Craven. Starring Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox Arquette, Deon Richmond, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Foley, Parker Posey, Jenny McCarthy, Lance Henriksen, Liev Schreiber.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 11, 2000
Third time's the charm in the concluding (maybe) chapter of Wes Craven's self-referential (and self-reverential) teen slasher series. As per the rules of the game, anything goes this time out, meaning that embattled teen Sidney Prescott (Campbell), now living in Northern Cali seclusion and fighting the good fight at a battered women's assistance phone line is in for another round of knife-wielding mayhem from yet another lunatic foe in the cheap plastic screamer mask and blowzy shroud. At this point a synopsis is going to read downright Jungian, so to gloss over the spoilers, suffice to say that Scream 3 plays up the clever gag of re-creating the second film on a Hollywood backlot as the in-film's Stab 3, a bastardized version of the events in Scream 2 here produced by horror maven John Milton (Henriksen) and directed by boy wonder Roman Bridger (Foley). To this end we have Party Girl Posey playing a goofier version of Cox Arquette's TV personality Gale Weathers, Richmond playing Jamie Kennedy's now-deceased film geek Randy Meeks, and so on, ad nauseam. Craven and new writer Ehren Kruger (Must everything in Scream 3 have some sort of reflexive twist on it, à la Kruger/Freddie Krueger? Ow, my head) toss everything and the blood-soaked kitchen sink into the mix, and, though it's at times more than we need, the end result is fairly solid. It lacks the one-two sucker punch of the original, but that's hardly going to be news. Where Scream 3 triumphs is in its wacky, take-no-prisoners, I Am a Juggernaut of Terror, Hee, Hee attitude, which wisely makes room for some downright surreal moments amongst the carnage. A couple of cases in point are the appearance of Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, reprising their (ongoing) Clerks/Chasing Amy/Dogma roles, and Carrie Fisher acting as though she's back on the Hollywood cough syrup and loving every minute of it. And, hey, isn't that Roger Corman over there? Uh huh. Critics of the Scream series have long (well, two years, anyway) hollered that these sorts of self-referential hijinks detract from the momentous horror of the occasion, but having sat through such Scream-spawned clunkers as I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Disturbing Behavior, and their ilk, I can only say such cheeesball comedics thankfully soften the blow … of your head connecting with the gooey theatre floor after you doze off, yet again. And frankly, it's nice to see Arquette in something other than an 1-800-COLLECT advertisement this month. Posey, of course, steals the show. Her faux Courteney Cox Arquette is all go, going, gone histrionic goofiness, and when the pair are sharing the screen, it's, well, not magic, per se, but pretty darn funny. As for Campbell, she's well on her way to becoming the next Sigourney Weaver (not a bad thing), and, if we're lucky, Party of Five's Julia Salinger will finally have learned how to handle herself around a fisty boyfriend. Is Scream 3 original? No. Does it matter anymore? Hardly. Go, relax, zone out, and wait for the next wave of post-ironic social commentary with a knife.