The first two Scream's did a great job at tackling horror genre clichés and satirizing the dreaded world of Hollywood sequels. Director Wes Craven and Writer Kevin Williamson masterfully injected brilliance into a dying scene, showing audiences and director hopefuls alike that the genre still has plenty of life (or death?) left in it. They did so by cleverly working in references to the most popular genre flicks of all time, as well as introducing the intriguing 'art, imitating life, imitating art' perspective. After Scream 2 was all said and done, I was under the impression that everything that needed to be humorously dissected and revitalized, had been, and there was nothing left for the masterminds behind the scenes to explore. Sure enough though, Scream 3 was announced, instilling fear that 'the third time's a charm' wouldn't hold true for this threequel. After all, the strength of the franchise up to this point was that it was relevant and fresh. But, with sequels already being the butt of the joke once already, how was Scream 3 going to pull off achieving the same relevance? Why, by satirizing movie trilogies, of course! Originally meant to be the end of the series, Craven set out with Writer Ehren Kruger to up the ante and bring the story full circle (Williamson was tied up working on a different project at the time). It was a seemingly impossible feat, but Craven was confident he could make this film the most frightening of all, as the only rule that applied to the final act of any trilogy, was that there were no rules at all. Now here we are, nearly 11 years after Scream 3's release, and it's finally making its initial high-def debut on Blu-ray. This was clearly a money making move on the part of Lionsgate, what with Scream 4 hitting theaters in a couple of short weeks. Needless to say, much like the first two Scream Blu-ray presentations, Lionsgate didn't go all out for this release.
In Hollywood, Cotton Weary, the man that was wrongfully pegged as Maureen Prescott's murderer, is confronted by a new Ghostface who desperately wants to know Sidney's whereabouts. When Cotton refuses to give the masked killer any information to go on, he becomes the first casualty in a new series of Woodsboro inspired murders. Gale is informed of Cotton's death by the authorities, and is asked to help with the investigation since she's been so closely involved with the Ghostface murders of yesteryear. The investigation brings her to the set of 'Stab 3 - Return to Woodsboro, the latest film in a franchise inspired by her bestselling book, as the cast members are being killed off one by one in the order that they die off in the script. Unbeknownst to her, her former flame, Dewey, has retired from the force and is working as an on-set advisor for the film. Meanwhile, Sidney has become a total shut-in, an unfortunate side-effect of the trauma the events at Woodsboro and her college have left her with. She's erased her identity as 'Sidney Prescott' by changing her name and working out of her home via telephone. After an unexpected phone call from the latest copycat killer however, she finds herself teamed up with Dewey and Gale for protection once again, facing her past on the eerily familiar looking stage sets of Stab 3.
Without question, Scream 3 is the weakest film in the series (at least, thus far), and the reason for this is simple - Kevin Williamson wasn't attached to the project, and Wes Craven really only agreed to do this film so he could get the 'go ahead' on a different project. One could argue that Williamson was still sort of involved in some capacity, since he left behind some notes regarding the storyline for the third act, but his absence behind the keyboard is blatantly obvious nonetheless. Unlike in the first two Scream films, the interaction between the main characters has grown stale. The dialogue isn't nearly as witty or well thought out, and often make Sid, Dewey, and Gale seem like parodies of their former selves. Furthermore, the story and kill sequences are predictable more often than not. The Ghostface killer does have a few new tricks up his sleeve this time around, but since the person behind the mask is still just a copycat, the methodology is still pretty much the same. That's really the biggest disappointment of all. The entire film feels like a 'been there, done that' kind of experience, despite the fact the whole premise of this film is that everything is fair game. The end of a trilogy inherently implies that all bets are off and old rules no longer apply. Revelations are to be revealed, and the villain is practically supposed to be superhuman. Yet, despite the promise contained within Williamson's notes, everything feels just as 'old hat' as ever.
Now, I don't necessarily blame Writer Ehren Kruger for turning Scream 3 into the very kind of film that the first two films were attempting to criticize. Kevin Williamson's shoes were hard ones to fill, and I'm not sure any other writer out there could have made Scream 3 just as groundbreaking as its predecessors. In most cases, completing a trilogy also inherently implies that the third flick is probably going to be the weakest of the bunch. That's just the nature of the beast. Just think of Terminator 3, Jurassic Park 3, Godfather 3, Back to the Future Part 3... and the list goes on. You can argue that none of these franchises were really intended to be trilogies, but then again, Scream wasn't meant to be a trilogy either. Some might want to argue with that fact as well, as there's information floating around out there that Scream was always intended to be a trilogy, but with the facts at hand, I simply don't buy it. I don't believe Wes Craven's heart was in this project, and the studio behind the film's production obviously didn't care either, because they probably could have waited for an opening in Williamson's schedule to ensure the best possibly outcome for this film. Instead, poor Kruger was forced to build upon the ideas of another man, and had little choice but to make everything in the previous films seem 'bigger' and 'better'. Williamson (assuming this was one of his noted ideas) had the right idea in making the 'art, imitating life, imitating art' aspect of the franchise even more pronounced this time around, but poor Kruger, forced to build upon the ideas of the original writing mastermind, wasn't able to implement that idea very well. Instead, it seems like he used the concept as sort of a crutch. The best parts of the film really rely on making the audience say, "Oh wow! I remember that from the first film!" Unfortunately, that's simply not good enough. Due to the predictability of the entire feature, the Ghostface scenes no longer provide the same thrills or chills as they used to, and the comical quips fall flat more often than not.
It's incredibly ironic that the Scream franchise ended up succumbing to the Hollywood pitfalls it was rebelling against, and also incredibly sad. This really could have gone down as one of the finest trilogies in recent memory, but the flailing third act just couldn't make it so. Fortunately for us however, Craven and Williamson have joined forces once again to bring us Scream 4. The horror scene has once again become lazy, concentrating most of its forces on popular remakes and reboots, and these guys are anxiously awaiting to send their latest message to a very complacent Hollywood. Hopefully, they're able to do what couldn't be done with Scream 3, and make their latest offering feel fresh and relevant once again.
If you've been following my Scream franchise reviews thus far, it should come as no surprise that Scream 3 isn't exactly a winner either. That being said, it's probably the least offensive looking title of the bunch.
With Scream 2, it was debatable if some of the grain had been scrubbed away, as the structure of it was minimalistic at best, and fine texture and detail was lacking all around (although, nobody looked like wax dummies, fortunately). Thankfully, the grain structure has been restored to a more appreciable level in Scream 3, yet just like with the first Scream Blu-ray, it looks digitized due to being overly noisy. Edge enhancement is another thing that's plagued these releases, which comes as no surprise since I suspect these to be the transfers that were created for the old DVD releases, and Scream 3 is no different in this regard, either.
What I can say positively about this release though, is that the color saturation looks better than it did in Scream 2, clarity and detail are improved a bit, and skin tones look more natural than the last go round as well. Sharpness is generally impressive, at least when compared to the film's predecessors, but still retains a bit of a soft look in numerous shots throughout.
As has been the theme with my Scream video reviews as of late, my overall opinion of the video presentation is like this - It's certainly not top-tier high-def material, but it's not worth scoffing at, especially considering how much of an improvement it is over the DVD release that's what, over a decade old now? Of course, you'll want to rent this for yourself if you're a videophile, but if you're a big fan of the series, I don't see how this couldn't be worth the upgrade.
If you decide the video transfer isn't worthy enough for an upgrade in your collection, than the audio most certainly is. Scream 3 utilizes a lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix, and it's more robust than the first two films in every perceivable way. The dynamic range is better, the soundstage more effective and immersive, the LFE hits harder, and ultimately, all culminate to provide the spookiest sonic experience in the series to date. It's unfortunate the movie itself isn't up to par, but at least the generic 'boo' scares will be as effective as possible with this masterful mix.
Commentary with Wes Craven, Producer Marianne Maddalena, and Editor Patrick Lussier - This is pretty similar in feel to the commentary that's available on Scream 2's Blu-ray release. It's fairly informative, but can be a little dry, due to many of the nitty gritty details that go a little deeper than some might be interested in hearing about, in regards to the film's production. Still worthy of a listen overall though.
Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Wes Craven, Producer Marianne Maddalena, and Editor Patrick Lussier - Much like the deleted scenes available with the previous film, these deleted scenes are interesting in and of themselves, but only would have served to make the film feel unnecessarily long.
Alternate Ending with Optional Commentary by Wes Craven, Producer Marianne Maddalena, and Editor Patrick Lussier - This is a more frightening finale, but it seems like it the added fear factor was forced to give the ending a little more punch. After all is said and done, I'm glad that they used the ending to Scream 3 that they did, but this should be an interesting clip for any fan of the series to watch.
Also included are some hilarious Outtakes as well as a Behind the Scenes Montage featuring clips from all three Scream films. Last but not least, is a Music Video for Creed's "What If", the Theatrical and International Trailer, as well as numerous TV Spots.
Scream 3 is the weakest film of the bunch, and not just in a minimal way. Every aspect of the film feels tired and predictable, and almost takes itself a little too seriously. Kevin Williamson wasn't able to partake in the third and supposed final outing, and his wit and charm is sorely missed. That being said, I think Writer Ehren Kruger did a serviceable job considering the shoes he was trying to fill, and to be fair, I don't think anyone could have filled those shoes quite like the original Scream writing mastermind could. If this film is really good for anything, it's to enjoy the irony of watching a Scream film actually be the genre cliché that the first two films tried so hard to satirize. As far as this Blu-ray goes, the video quality isn't pristine but looks a bit better than Scream 2, and the lossless audio mix in the series is second to none. Due to the poor film and slightly above average picture quality, not to mention the lack of decent extras, I can only recommend a rental. If you're a fan of the series and are a bit of completist much like myself, spend your money how you want to, but videophiles might want to rent this just to see if they think the video transfer is worth it before spending their hard earned money.