Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: Scream 3 (2000): Collector's Series
Studio Line: Miramax Films (Disney) - The most terrifying scream is always the last.

Stars Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox Arquette are back for more in the chilling final chapter of this phenomenally popular and frightfully entertaining trilogy! While Sidney Prescott (Campbell) lives in safely guarded seclusion, bodies begins dropping around the Hollywood set of Stab 3, the latest movie sequel based on the gruesome Woodsboro killings! And when the escalating terror finally brings her out of hiding, Sidney and other Woodsboro survivors are once again drawn into an insidious game of horror movie mayhem! But just when they thought they knew how to play by the rules, they discover that all the rules have been broken! Featuring hot newcomers Parker Posey (The House Of Yes) and Jenny McCarthy (Diamonds) in another stellar ensemble cast, Scream 3 offers an unmatched mix of thrills, laughter and suspense that brings this spine-tingling saga to an unforgettable conclusion.

Director: Wes Craven
Cast: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox Arquette, Patrick Dempsey, Parker Posey, Scott Foley, Lance Henriksen, Matthew Keeslar, Jenny McCarthy, Emily Mortimer, Deon Richmond, Liev Schreiber
Box Office: Budget: $40 million. Opening Weekend: $34.71 million. Gross: $89.14 million.
DVD: Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9; audio English DD 5.1, French DD 5.1; subtitles Spanish; closed-captioned; single side - dual layer; 29 chapters; rated R; 117 min.; $29.99; street date 7/5/00.
Supplements: Audio Commentary by director Wes Craven, producer Marianne Maddalena, and editor Patrick Lussier; Behind The Scenes From All 3 Scream Movies; Deleted Scenes with Commentary Track by Wes Craven & Crew; Alternate Ending with Commentary Track by Wes Craven & Crew; Outtakes; TV Spots & Theatrical Trailer; International Trailer; 'Creed' Music Video; Cast & Crew Bios.
Purchase: DVD | Music Soundtrack - Various Artists | Score soundtrack - Marco Beltrami | Poster

Picture/Sound/Extras: B+/A/B

Although I enjoyed Scream 3, I feel very relieved that it's allegedly the final entry of the series. After the wickedly original thrills of the first Scream, the filmmakers trod on shaky ground by making a sequel; it may have been inevitable, since Scream performed well at the box office, but it could have been disastrous. However, while Scream 2 wasn't as good as its predecessor, it still offered some fun action.

Scream 3 seems roughly equivalent to S2; both appear slightly tired at times but they also deliver enough cheesy excitement to make the trip worthwhile. There's no way the freshness and cleverness of the first film could ever be replicated, as that picture's self-referential style has been duplicated up the wazoo; what seemed new and original in 1996 has become somewhat stale.

That doesn't mean that S3 falls flat, but it has to work much harder for its thrills. The film seems somewhat forced, as though everyone's trying desperately to reinvent the wheel but no one knows how to do so. Honestly, the Scream legacy would have been better served if no actual sequels appeared; so many imitators have appeared that the second and third films have a lot of trouble distinguishing themselves from the crowd, and in some ways, their failings cheapen the creativity of the original.

Despite the feeling that I'd walked this dog before, I still enjoyed S3 to a moderate degree, which is pretty much the same way I felt about S2. As I reflect on S3, there's not a lot about it that stands out and seems especially memorable. It's much more lightweight entertainment than the first movie, which became etched in my mind because it was so different; while well-told, the action of S3 seems largely generic and little looks particularly clever. While I did like the movie and I got caught up in the suspense, I must admit I'm surprised how little of the specifics I remember, even though I've seen S3 twice.

Realistically, two aspects of S3 carried me through the film. For one, no matter how far into "Scooby Doo" territory the plot went, I remained curious to discover how the story would be resolved. As with the prior movies, a wide range of possible killers exists, and we receive very few clues as to that person's identity. After three films, I'm involved enough in the fates of our main characters that I want to see what will happen to them; three veterans of the other two pictures - Neve Campbell's Sidney, David Arquette's Dewey, and Courtney Cox's Gale - reprise their roles, so it was fun to see how their characters would deal with the new threat.

None of those actors provides particularly inspiring performances; to be frank, they all seem a little tired and they probably hope this film really does mark the end of the series. That brings me to S3's other redeeming feature: Parker Posey's performance as Jennifer, the actress who plays Gale in movie-within-a-movie Stab 3. Posey provides an absolutely hilarious turn as an actress who's just as self-centered and career-obsessed as the "real" Gale, and the scenes in which Posey and Cox face off in Battle of the Galest Gales make for some of the film's best parts. Actually, the most memorable part of S3 comes during the silly moment in which a frazzled Jennifer climbs into the arms of her bodyguard (a mostly-wasted Patrick Warburton); Posey manages this feat in such a pathetic manner that it creates a tremendous laugh where none might otherwise have existed.

Few other portions of Scream 3 manage to rise above the crowd, however. Overall, I found the movie to be fun and entertaining, but the bloom is clearly off the rose. Director Wes Craven and crew managed to squeeze a little more life out of the formula, but there's no more blood for it to lose, and this hopefully marks the last hurrah of the Scream gang.

The DVD:

Scream 3 appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Overall, the movie looks very good, with only a few problems that affected it.

Sharpness seems extremely strong throughout the film, with a crisp and clear image that never betrayed any softness. I also saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, but Scream 3 presented more artifacts from the anamorphic downconversion on my 4X3 TV than usual; I frequently encountered the "ropiness" that results from that change. Print defects seemed non-existent; the film looked free of grain, scratches, hairs, nicks, or speckles.

Colors appeared accurate and nicely-saturated; I didn't see any bleeding or noise associated with them, and the looked clean and true. Black levels generally seemed adequate, but they could appear somewhat inky or pale. Shadow detail also looked a bit murky and vague at times. All in all, the movie offered a very good image, but these minor flaws knocked it down to a still-solid "B+".

Much better is the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Scream 3. The soundfield itself seems encompassing but not overly ambitious; this mix doesn't match with really active environments such as Twister or Saving Private Ryan. However, the soundstage of Scream 3 appears appropriate, and for what it does, the audio works quite well. Most of the sound sticks to the forward channels, but it expands nicely to the rears much of the time, and a fair amount of discrete audio appears. The mix features some excellent panning as well; the soundfield seems more involving just because the audio moves between speakers so smoothly and neatly.

While the soundfield itself was pretty good, it was the quality of the audio that made the package special. Although much of the dialogue needed to be dubbed, it always seems warm and natural and it integrates very well with the image. Music sounds clear and precise, with accurate highs and deep lows. Effects offer nicely realistic (or hyper-realistic, when appropriate) and clean audio that never displays any distortion. The track's dynamic range seems simply terrific, and the whole piece packs a solid punch through its tight bass. I debated between giving the audio of Scream 3 an "A" or an "A-". I wasn't sure it warranted the higher grade because the soundfield didn't seem quite as intensely active as I'd expect of an "A" product. However, it provides a strong environment, and the whole thing sounds so great that I couldn't resist the solid "A".

Scream 3 is formally touted as a special edition, and although it isn't packed to the gills with supplemental features, it includes a few nice extras. First up is an audio commentary from director Wes Craven, producer Marianne Maddalena, and editor Patrick Lussier. Although Craven is a veteran of many commentaries - I can think of at least four prior to S3 - he's not the most fascinating speaker; I liked the track for the first Scream, but those for A Nightmare On Elm Street, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, and Music of the Heart seemed decent but unspectacular. This track for S3 falls firmly into that category. It provides some good details, but there's too much superficial discussion of what we can already see on the screen. The participants point out a few interesting bits - editor Lussier appears to have a rather good memory, and he mentions a lot of the inconsistencies that boneheads like me always miss - but all in all, the track seemed a little slow. It's worth a listen, but it lacked some entertainment value.

Next up are some video features. "Outtakes" lasts six and a half minutes and presents a mixture of the usual flubs and goofiness. For some reason, I found these to be a little more entertaining than most, but they stick with the typical formula.

Another video program called the "Behind the Scenes" montage shows up here. This goes for six minutes and 15 seconds and presents production snippets from each of the three films; they all receive fairly equal time, which means roughly two minutes per movie. These are a lot of fun, especially those for the first picture; it's too bad they only included such small bits, as I would have enjoyed much more.

The "Deleted Scenes" section gives us four excised portions. The first two actually are the same piece; they're different versions of the opening of the film. Alternate One runs four minutes and 25 seconds and essentially just adds footage to the existing opening, while Alternate Two goes for six minutes and presents an different version of the scene. The other two deleted segments are shorter - 110 seconds and 75 seconds, respectively - and also add footage to already-existing scenes. The extra footage is mildly interesting; the two openings weren't terribly interesting, but the others were a little more compelling. One major complaint: during the commentary, we hear of lots of deleted material, but little of that appears here. I especially would have loved to see Posey's other takes of the bodyguard scene I mention earlier; the commentary states that she did all sorts of great stuff, but we have no visual evidence. Didn't anybody save the other takes?

Another unused scene gets its own section: the 10 minute "Alternate Ending". Don't get too excited about this; it's not very different from the existing conclusion. It adds a little and does a few things mildly differently, but the overall piece works the same, and there are no significant differences.

All of the "Deleted Scenes" and the "Alternate Ending" can be viewed with or without commentary from Craven, Maddalena, and Lussier. Although they add nothing tremendously fascinating, their remarks add some perspective about the pieces and let us know why the changes were made.

The DVD includes a music video for Creed's "What If". This clip differs slightly from the normal "video for a movie" format. Yes, it features the normal lip-synching scenes, but the video tries to maintain a story as well; it uses David Arquette as movie studio security and shows the band and some babes as they're terrorized by the Scream killer. It's nothing special, but at least it's a little more clever than the usual crummy videos we find attached to movies.

A slew of publicity materials can be found on the DVD. We get the theatrical trailer for Scream 3 plus the "International Trailer" as well. The latter is simply a longer version of the former. An ad for the movie's soundtrack appears; essentially, it just presents a truncated version of the Creed "What If" music video. Finally, a whopping 14 television spots appear here; all in all, they run for a total of about five and a half minutes.

The DVD concludes with some biographical information. We find entries for 15 cast members plus director Craven, producers Maddalena and Cathy Konrad, editor Lussier, and screenwriter Ehren Kruger. These are pretty bland and brief bios, so don't expect a lot of information. However, let's hear it for the locals! Just like me, both Konrad and Kruger are DC-area natives (though Konrad is from Silver Spring, Maryland - there's no such place as Silver Springs, dammit!)

One very significant note: for the first time in months, a DVD distributed by Buena Vista does not - repeat, not - include those much-despised "preview trailers" that have opened so many of their other products. You know these - the ads that start the discs. Is this an exception or the new rule? Probably the exception, honestly; both Robin Hood and Alice in Wonderland came out the same day, and they contain the previews. Granted, those are formally "Disney" titles, while S3 comes from BV subsidiary Dimension Films; maybe that distinction made a difference (though it didn't stop previews from appearing on DVDs from other BV affiliates such as Touchstone). Still, it's nice to see them absent from this DVD, especially since it's such a high-profile release.

Ultimately, Scream 3 offers enough fun and thrills to deserve a viewing, especially from already-established fans of the series. However, no one should expect more than a fairly wan imitation of the wonderful original; I liked S3 but in no way does it live up to the first film. The DVD itself is the best of the Scream bunch. Both picture and sound are strong, and this DVD packs in a decent roster of supplemental features. Die-hard Screamers may want to buy this DVD, but others will probably be content with a rental.

Menu: DVD Movie Guide | Archive | Top