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Friday, August 29, 2014

Bad Movie Month silences Scream 3

As we come to the final entry in this year's Bad Movie Month theme of Sorry Sequels, our meta quota is overflowing with Scream 3, which fortunately was not the last word on this horror franchise.

It is pretty much agreed that the original Scream was a distinctive hallmark in the genre that set off a whole new wave of cinematic terror. The inevitable follow-up to that film,Scream 2, has many of the fan base still debating it's merits(for the record, I really like that one) but in the case of the third time out, there is little dispute over just how boringly bad it was.

Part of the major shift in quality and tone has been blamed on screenwriter Ehren Kruger(taking over for Kevin Williamson, who created the first two films) but director Wes Craven was also on board here again and some of this blandness on screen can also be laid on his doorstep.

Don't get me wrong, I love the man's work but he does have two speeds when it comes to film making; full on creative love or going through the movie motions. Sadly, Scream 3 landed in the latter with a gruesome thunk.

I remember seeing this movie on it's opening weekend in 2000 and realizing right away just how bad this was going to be as soon as the opening credits kill began. The most important element of the Scream series was that first big scene and say what you will about Scream 2, they put a scary smart twist on that sequence that came close to the now iconic Drew Barrymore death one.

Here, we had Cotton Weary(Liev Schrieber) now an obnoxious talk show host living in Hollywood, being stalked on his car phone by a new Ghostface Killer and racing home to save his girlfriend. That scenario did have some potential to be an unexpected thrill ride but it was just another routine thriller moment, no different from anything you could see in a Lifetime movie,only gorier:

Then, our new masked murderer moved on to the cast of Stab 3,the movie series within the movie series, and to tell the truth here, working up sympathy for the likes of Jenny McCarthy and Parker Posey as potential body bag fillers is a herculean task.

McCarthy's character is so broadly developed she might as well be wearing a t-shirt that says "I am an annoying caricature of  a bad actress", which would be better and wittier than any of so-called lines written for her in the script.

Parker Posey is no picnic either, as a little of her goes quite a long way and at times you wish the killer would take her down already. She attaches herself like a leech to poor Courtney Cox's Gail Weathers, due to playing her in the Stab series and Gail actually seems a lot nicer than she is in direct comparison.   At least Jenny McCarthy didn't wear out her welcome on screen by having the good luck to be picked off early:

Yes, Gail,Dewey(David Arquette) and of course, Sydney(Neve Campbell) are called to Hollywood and reunited, thanks to the new Woodsboro themed kill spree. Gail and Dewey do their usual "I love you/I loathe you" routine, predictable as a toddler's knock-knock joke while Sydney does the whole "reliving my tortured past' thing.

To be fair, Neve Campbell does make a bit of an effort with her performance but it's truly wasted here. Another waste of talent is an impromptu appearance by Heather Matarazzo, as Randy's little sister who drops by to deliver a video recording from her dead brother than happens to relate to this new rash of murders! Talk about your all too convenient conveniences there!

What particularly peeves me about that exposition time-out(other than a lame attempt to appease fans who were upset about Randy being killed off in Scream 2) is that Heather Matarazzo was and is a talented actress and what do they give her to do in this movie?

 Give a quick "hi" and "bye" as she brings in the video, sits down to watch it with them and then leaves. Seriously? An extra could've done that or better yet, just have the tape be delivered via express mail. I know she was paid and everything but still, what a blown opportunity there:

A big part of the problem with this movie was the wink and nudge method of meta comedy being pushed here.

 Sandwiched between the murky murderous goings-on which involved frightening fax messages and a house being blown up, those comic bits had an obvious bad flavor to them, like a garlic and peanut butter cookie.  Granted, they were slightly better than the overly elaborate mystery surrounding the killer's identity that even diehard Scooby Doo watchers would be insulted by.

From Jay and Silent Bob's walk-on where Gail Weathers is called Connie Chung( which is no where near as funny as the Scream parody slipped into Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) to Carrie Fisher showing up as a bitchy Carrie Fisher lookalike, the yucks kept on coming at the worst possible moments. The reason for this was studio pressure, due to the real life mass shootings being covered by the media at the time. Understandable yet not a good excuse for such hokey humor:

Scream 3 did make a respectable amount of box office revenue but it soured the fans on this fear franchise considerably. While the fourth film that came after it in 2011 was a vast improvement in more ways than one, it made a lot less money.

Money isn't everything but still, it was a shame that Scream 4 had to pay for the cinematic sins of Scream 3. At the moment, there are no further plans to continue the series and I think that's for the best.

Thank you all for attending Bad Movie Month this year and horror fans might be interested to know that my Year of Freddy Fear will continue, with a fresh fall look at Robert Englund in Jack Brooks, Monster Slayer sometime in September. In the meanwhile, have a happy Labor Day weekend, folks, and hopefully your playlist for last of the summertime fun won't include Creed's awful anthem from the Scream 3 soundtrack:


Thaddeus said...

I gotta agree with you on this one. The killer's motive is bland/lame and too steeped in the events of the prior films to be even slightly creative.

I, too, remember the bad jokes - and, hey, if you're gonna make a grown-up slasher, don't worry about Columbine! That was a high school gun incident. The second you don't worry about making your comedy pic funny or your horror film scary, you are screwing up.

Btw, part of why I disagreed with you on Scream 2 is that it felt like a definite step down from the first pic. Yes, the opening scene was great, but I felt like the actors' parts received less characterization than in Scream 1 - which was partly what made it so good! I also wasn't thrilled with the motive of the killer in #2. But, hell, I get stuck on plot and character, sometimes to my detriment...

Great review, lady t!

lady t said...

Thanks,Thaddeus and I see your point about Scream 2 but still find it a worthy sequel. You could at least see the effort being made there.

I grant you that one of the killer's motives wasn't up to snuff but hey, nothing wrong with focusing on plot and character in my humble opinion:) Hoped you like Bad Movie Month this time around!