Scream 3 finishes trilogy with merely a whisper

Dear Mr. Craven: We get the point. The Scream series has made its money on the basis that they are horror movies poking fun at themselves. In the newest episode, Scream 3, it’s more of the same.

In the first movie, it was a small-town murder mystery. In the second, it was set on a college campus. And for Scream 3, the scene is a movie set where the latest installment of the Stab series is being filmed. The concept of filming a horror movie on the set of a horror movie is an interesting concept, but certainly not as novel as the makers of Scream 3 seem to think (who can forget George Clooney in Return to Horror High?).

The story line is basic and predictable. Our hero, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell, Party of Five) is living in seclusion somewhere in the mountains. Then the murders on the set of Stab 3 begin to happen and back come the survivors, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox Arquette, Friends) and Dewey Riley (David Arquette), to investigate.

The police get involved as the murders become more frequent and as more of the characters in the movie get knocked off. The killer informs Sidney about the murders, and she comes to Hollywood to help the police once more.

Like the first two movies, the ,Scream creators spell out the rules for the movie. This time, all bets are off. Anyone can die – including Sidney. And the killer only will die by stabbing or decapitation, etc. From there, the movie proceeds to follow these rules to the letter. The intent was to show the audience that the producers know what they are doing. The effect is that the audience says, I know what’s going to happen, why am I here?

To his credit, however, Wes Craven does manage to create some truly thrilling scenes. One scene in which Sidney’s mother comes back to haunt her is on par with the Blair Witch Project or The Sixth Sense.

While the movie is not a classic in the genre like the first of the trilogy, it completely surpasses the sequel, Scream 2. The three movies in the series can be compared solely on the basis of who the killers turn out to be. In the first movie, the killers are both shocking and disturbing. After you see the movie, they stay with you as a reminder that there may be people out there like that. In Scream 2, the killers are so removed from the actual story that the audience doesn’t care about them. And while the killer – or killers as it may be – in the third movie are not extremely shocking or unexpected, there is an interesting twist that makes the character or characters that much deeper.

In the end, though, the movie disintegrates into a Scooby Doo-esque kind of whodunit that doesn’t stick in the mind of the viewer past the closing credits.

Scream 3 is playing in theaters.

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