Wes Craven delivered a third entry into the Scream franchise in 2000, and while it’s interesting to see how characters have changed (or not) since the second film, the film itself lacks the self-referential meta nature that made the first to so enjoyable.
Even by transposing the bulk of the story to the making of Stab 3, the in-universe film franchise based on the first film and moving it to Hollywood, there is a severe lack of self-awareness even as the story puts Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) in harm’s way yet again.
This time, as we’re reminded, the rules can be tossed out the window, because it’s possibly the third time around, and if it’s a trilogy, than everything can change, and it’s all up for grabs. But that’s about as film referential as the story gets, despite the trappings of the film itself.
The Stab 3 cast includes Emily Mortimer and Parker Posey as Sidney and Gale Weathers (Coutney Cox) respectively, while Lance Henriksen lends some gravitas and menace as the film’s producer, and Scott Foley plays the director Roman.
A series of deaths, including Cotton (Liev Schreiber), phone calls, and haunting visions, draws Sidney out of her hiding place, a remote home in the hills, where she works as a crisis counselor via phone. When Dewey (David Arquette), who is serving as the technical consultant on the new Stab, reaches out to her, he, Sidney, and Gale find themselves facing Ghostface once again.
Patrick Dempsey shows up as a Hollywood homicide cop who has seen it all and still loves film, and while there are some fun cameos and recognizable voices and faces, none of them have the impact the cast of the second film.
And while I do like how Sidney is first hiding from and then confronting her trauma, the rest of the film really does lack the sense of fun that filled the first two films, and there are moments that feel shoehorned in as an attempt to fan service the expectations of the film, and flounder badly.
There’s a number of missed opportunities throughout the film, particularly on the set of Woodsboro in the soundstage for Stab 3, and the Scooby-Doo like mansion at the end of the film. But with a rushed script, and the problems that developed around it (Kevin Williamson was off working on other projects, and the production company didn’t want to wait for his availability so they hired a different writer, and then both Craven and another writer did re-writes to attempt to keep it more inline with the established characters of the series), none of this is really a surprise.
I think the series would have been best served to wait for Williamson and Craven to reunite, but the company wanted what it wanted, and we’re given, arguably, the weakest entry in the franchise, even if it had some cool ideas.
I guess we’ll see what happens in Scream 4 next week.