SCREAM 3 really isn’t terrible-- it’s just frustrating because it could have been so much better.
I’ve watched it a handful of times now, and it has grown on me a bit over the years. While some plot elements still piss me off to no end (i.e. the ridiculous multi-voice changer device and the unnecessary retcon of events from the first film), SCREAM 3 is still a better third entry than most horror film franchises have. That said, it is EASILY the weakest film in the series as well.
Scary movies for a Halloweenie: Scream 2 (10/29/16)
Well, I write this review tonight with a small feeling of sadness in my heart. Tonight marks the last film as part of the Halloweenie awards season for the 2016/17 awards. Luckily, I ended strong with a return to the canon of one of my favorite movies from last year in the form of Scream 2.
When I finished Scream last year, I was convinced a sequel could not be done. Scream resolved perfectly, the bad guys had been killed, the final girl survived, and the day was saved. Scream had the perfect blend of dark humor, self-awareness, and genuine scares that I was worried all a sequel could do is taint a nearly perfect film. Luckily, and this is still hard to believe, I was dead wrong. Scream 2 delivered an experience that was just as funny, scary, and thought provoking as its predecessor, with tons of references to other horror films along the way. Seeing the return of Sidney (Neve Campbell) and her cohorts from the last movie gave me a rush of excited nostalgia- I hadn’t realized how much I had missed these characters. I won’t give too much about the plot away, but this movie is just as well thought out as the first one- keeping you guessing about the killer’s identity from start to finish.
Scream 2′s director, Wes Craven, has become a very familiar figure for me over the past two years. He’s by far one of the most brilliant directors within the world of horror. He knows when to be subtle, when to be silly, and when to not hold anything back. He’s responsible for the creation of several of my favorite characters in the horror genre (Nancy and Freddy from Elm Street and Sidney from this franchise) and has been consistently outstanding based on the works I’ve seen by him. I am so greatly excited to continue to follow his filmography next year, when I’m sure to have several more works of his in the Halloweenie awards list. I’m so glad I got to end the awards season on such a high note, with a film by one of my personal favorite horror directors. I guess that’ll about do it.
Favorite line: This line is from the trailer, but I think it perfectly encapsulates the humors of this franchise: “There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate - more blood, more gore - *carnage candy*. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead.”
Rating: This was a strong, strong movie. 100 gallons of *fake* blood (if not way more) out of 100.
Chances I’ll sleep tonight: Well, I managed to survive the sequel (if you consider Halloweenies: Year 2) a sequel which means I’ll either be written out next year or die in the opening scene. Dang. Anyways, stay tuned for tomorrow’s posts when I end the month with some re-reviews from last year’s Halloweenie awards.
From the creator of The Last House On The Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare On Elm Street, The People Under The Stairs, and My Soul To Take.
THE ORIGINAL (1996)
For its time and even for a while after, Scream was a clever take on a now classic division of the horror genre for its generation. Stating that Wes Craven was able to speak beyond a decade, unlike John Carpenter who kept on past his prime era but I still like him more than Craven so far.
I saw (one of) the killers coming a mile away, the other I knew of years in advance. Jamie Kennedy as Randy is my favorite, and the only guy I like in this world. I don’t like Courtney Cox as Gale one bit. I never liked Billy – whose real name is Skeet, or as my girlfriend Erika and friend Nathan call his character: “Discount Johnny Depp” – from the first time I saw him – could it have been any more obvious that he was a creep! – and Matthew Lillard as Stuart is so over the top yet it somehow works.
I’m 20 years late to this party – or, how about 10? No way I would have seen it at 6, so I’ll say I could have tried at 16 – but the original Scream is a decade-defining film. A nice piece of pop-culture for Generation X. A fine voice for horror in the 1990’s.
THE SEQUEL (1997)
Scream 2 truly is The Self Fulfilling Prophecy with “the sequel is never as good!” which isn’t always true due to several examples, and I still don’t know what Jamie Kennedy was trying to talk about with “The Empire Strikes Back isn’t a sequel” (…what?).
David Arquette as Dewey is useless and annoying – his character, I’m not talking shit on him as an actor, he hams it up just right – and his entire “romance” with Gale is completely cringe-worthy, even much more than many of the kills!
Neve Campbell’s entire character of Sidney Prescott is “she has bad things happen to her” which may be a commentary on some female protagonists in horror flicks, but she’s a shell of an arc that isn’t as profound as the sequel needed, especially if this universe is so “self-aware” like it insists it is so much. I mean, that’s basically its whole shtick!
To be fair, my give-a-shit meter tanked when Randy was gone. The only person in this world that I really liked. Jada Pinkett Smith in the opening was 100% me speaking to these movies. I also didn’t quite understand the second villain that much. Not Billy’s mom, but Timothy Olyphant, who was Jerry O'Connell’s buddy… he helped Billy’s mom kill those people to… blame it on the movies? That’s WHY he did it? Or was it just an excuse and he did it because he was just crazy, which was “kinda-sorta” Matthew Lillard’s thing with the “peer-pressure” cop-out.
I just believe Scream 2 embodies the sequel that doesn’t live up to the first. That may be the metaphysical point, but according to several other opinions I’ve seen, it is apparently still one of the most well received horror sequels. I suppose that’s still an accomplishment, albeit not that tough of a race to win, I’m sure.
Scream 2 was released exactly a year after Scream 1. I understand that slasher films are in many if not most ways easier to crank out, but perhaps another year or even two could have helped much more than just trying to cash-in on the buzz as it was comfortably riding a wave of hype.
THE TRILOGY (2000)
The third installment is… not terrible? I didn’t hate it. The second entry is better, and once again I don’t even like Scream 2 all that much. This was when the novelty clearly started to bleed out. What was once a series to be (as Rotten Tomatoes displays) a “subversive deconstruction of the genre” that was a “gleeful takedown of scary movie conventions that manages to poke fun at terrible horror sequels without falling victim to the same fate” did indeed fall victim to that fate. “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain.”
By the end of this trilogy capper, Scream was showing some seriously tedious repetition, beat by beat, almost frame by frame it seems. It had morphed into what it was mocking, meta or not. The killer was her long-lost (half) brother… if that isn’t a cliché, then I don’t know what is!
I was also just a little shocked that Sidney wasn’t really relevant until halfway through the entire film. Then again, that’s still plenty of time for her to be terrorized in this universe that hates her guts so much. All of this just because Sidney’s mom was a shitty person, which was because the android from Aliens / detective from The Terminator / villain from Hard Target was a shitty person. People need to leave this girl alone.
THE “REMAKE” (2011)
Scream 4 is decent for a horror legacy-sequel, or as I used to call them: nostalgic-sequels, such as Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Scream 4 can’t be called a “remake/reboot” as the plot and events are referred to within the movie because… it’s not. Once again and for the final time, the first entry in this saga can’t be topped. There was just a magic to the original 1996 film that the follow-ups weren’t able to carry over or capture again… BUT if ANY of the sequels come close, it’s this fourth film.
The younger additions to the cast are fine. The best is Emma Roberts who owns the psychotic-bitch role so well one scene, she’s almost a little too convincing for comfort. When it came to Dewey and Gale, I never cared for them before, but I was somehow slightly relieved that they survived one final time, despite the talk of “anything goes” / “everyone is free game” / “there are no rules”-rules for modern horror remakes, because… well, what the Hell? They made it this far already so there’s no sense in closing the curtain without them now, especially since SOMEONE has to be on Sidney’s side this this world.
As for Sidney, she never did grow any more as a character. I almost want to say that she was underwritten. I always like Neve Campbell, and wished she did more, and I’m sure she could have worked with a more fleshed-out Sidney. Sadly, there just wasn’t anything deeper for her than “Bad things always happen to me, and nobody will ever leave me alone.” I do admire that after Scream 2, she never had another romantic relationship. After Billy being a murderer and Jerry O'Connell’s character being murdered, that just made enough sense to me that she would have given up on love, not to be a downer to anyone reading this.
Scream 4 could have used more of an extended ending. Of all entries to emulate, Scream 3 wrapped up with more of a “closing of the book” feeling for Sidney Prescott that was rather satisfying… so much it almost didn’t feel like it belonged in a horror sequel… which is maybe why they skipped it this time? 4 is better than 2 and 3. I already want to revisit the original.
Wes Craven gave us a straight-faced send-up to slasher flicks, and some entertaining – at least they’re not boring! – sequels even if they don’t feel as smart and cool and fall into the very fates that they’re pseudo-parodying. Rest In Peace.
List of sequels that are actually considered superior than the predecessor at least by many if not most:
The Godfather Part II
The Empire Strikes Back
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
X2: X-Men United
The Dark Knight
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
The one that never stood a chance:
The Matrix Reloaded.