They say bad luck comes in threes, whether this is true or not will come down to personal experience, but in Hollywood, it is rare for the third time to be the charm. Certain franchises learn this lesson the hard way, with the changes of the time, and new projects on the horizon, producing a more discerning audience. In the year 2000, just when you thought it was safe to go to the cinema, a film-within-a-film showed some dark secrets as audiences sat down to watch Scream 3.
Years after the grisly slaughter that haunted her, Sidney Prescott has moved on working from home as a crisis councillor, private in the woods. Meanwhile, Cotton has been killed after cameoing in the third Stab film (ones based on Gale Weathers books). When the killings begin to interfere with the production of the hit Stab films, bearing the hallmarks of another Ghostface, provokes Sidney out of her secluded comfort. Sidney et al. will soon learn that evil lurks both on and off the screen, as Woodsboro’s nightmare gets the Hollywood treatment.
The third entry in franchises can be even more polarising than direct sequels, and Scream 3 provides no exception. While it’s still a delight to see the inclusion of Lance Henriksen, as Hollywood mogul, Milton, allegations of the casting couch do leave uncomfortable scars for return viewings. Along with the spectre of real-world violence may have also toned the slashing down somewhat, and Kevin Williamson was distracted with other projects (after the success of his Scream competitor: I Know What You Did Last Summer). It is also worth noting that the ending does manage to reshape the previous film’s narrative in a way that could be directly inspired by other films’ meddling with their characters for more film potentials.
Despite the odds, Scream 3 does manage to carve out another winning entry in its lineup. The meta machinations of the previous two return in full swing, and despite not having the talents of Kevin Williamson behind the script, Ghost In The Shell writer Ehren Kruger takes up the helm. The gang’s all here with David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and of course, Roger L. Jackson’s distinctive voice. While the way they manage to resurrect certain characters to offer their trademark insight is an ingenious concoction. Along with some other cute cameos from some big names of La La Land. Stab’s film-within-a-film is also a hilarious way to up the stakes, one that is filled with homages to the original Scream, and Gale’s unique lime suit. Along with a powerful tool to comment on the Hollywood System, its shimmering stars and its seedy underbelly.
From the outside, it is clear to see why the third Scream is the black sheep of the franchise, with its shocking revelations about its characters. The shadow of real-world tragedies and a new scriptwriter put it out of step with its previous entries. However, with its back against the wall, Scream 3 proves to be most inventive, the spark is creditability here, and the cast is as eager as ever to revel in the slasher fun. It certainly feels prophetic, but you’ve followed the characters this far, this Scream might show that 3 is indeed a magic number.
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