Volume 93, Issue 73

Wednesday, February 9, 2000


Scream franchise still kicking

Snapcase out with the old, in with the new

Scream franchise still kicking

Gazette file photo
AHHHH! YOU TOLD ME I'D SAVE 30 TO 50 PER CENT ON MY LONG-DISTANCE PHONE BILL! Courtney Cox-Arquette and annoying hubby David express their surprise over the lying phone company bastards in Scream 3.

By Chad Finkelstein
Gazette Staff

The franchise – a form of movie that has been dead since Indiana Jones embarked on his last crusade. Why? Because of overkill. Thankfully, the Scream series will not fall prey to the gods of overexposure – director Wes Craven and company have the good sense to quit while they're ahead.

This final chapter in the slasher trilogy is the logical finish to a franchise which has typically prided itself on its tongue-in-cheek nature and superior artistry.

The beauty of the first installment of Scream was its smarmy "we-know-this-movie-sucks-but-that's-what-makes-it-so-cool" attitude. It was successful because it not only flawlessly mocked the worn-out slasher genre, but managed to match the fright quotient with a hilarity factor in the process.

Given that Scream 2 ended up being the exact crap that its predecessor so gracefully gutted apart, it was difficult to know what to expect from the latest and last installment.

Creator Kevin Williamson is absent from the screenwriter's credit in this one and based on his "I Know How You Wasted My Time Last Summer" series, it might not be an integral loss.

Scream 3 reverts back to the same flow which made the original so wildly successful. It retains the behind-the-scenes spirit so the audience knows nothing is meant to be taken seriously, while throwing in enough predictably amplified jolts to make even the most courageous viewer jump at least once.

The movie gets a little more eerie this time around as the feisty, indestructible Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) begins having strange, hypnotic visions of her dead mother. This new tension seems peculiar to Sydney because she has become a recluse, moving away from the city and creating a false identity for herself, so that only her father and Deputy Dewey (David Arquette) know where and who she really is.

Dewey is acting as technical advisor on the set of Stab 3 (the pseudo-movie version of the story of Scream 2) when things start to go awry. Cast members start to get bumped off in the same order they do in the script and are always found with a dated picture of Sydney's mother beside them. Since this obviously involves Sydney, she is called out of hiding to discover that, once again, everyone's a suspect.

Scream 3 succeeds because of its lightheartedness. Action gets reduced to slapstick a little too commonly, but a lot of comedic integrity remains.

Indie film queen Parker Posey steals scenes as the actress portraying reporter Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox-Arquette) and anything that stars Patrick Warburton (better known as Seinfeld mechanic David Puddy) is definitely worth watching.

Sadly, the movie then gets cluttered, with gruesome slaughters, a handful of cameos and enough Hollywood insider references to choke an Entertainment Weekly editor.

Of course some parts are, plainly put, just stupid. It's unfortunate that Scream 3 falls victim to predictability and repetition, especially since this series has dissected the horror genre so precisely in the past.

But that's to be expected. In the end, Scream 3 prevails because it ultimately proves difficult to classify as either a comedy or a horror. Though that may sound like it a disadvantage, it creates a genuinely effective balance and helps this franchise end on a welcome high note.

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