It’s a pretty universal fact that horror franchises don’t do sequels well. There are certainly exceptions where sequels are genuinely good, like Aliens, or so bad they’re good like Jason X, but for the most part as a horror series goes on you tend to get diminishing returns. This is especially true with 2000’s Scream 3.
Whilst Scream and Scream 2 are both good films, thanks in large part to some clever writing by Kevin Williamson and great directing from legend Wes Craven, Scream 3 struggled to recapture a lot of that magic. This was in part due to the loss of Williamson, the original creator of the franchise; his outline for the third film was mostly thrown out by new writer Ehren Kruger. The film went from focusing on the lead Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and her struggles against the ghostface killer, first in high-school then college, and instead made it about the latest fictional Stab movie, and put a bunch of new characters into the spotlight.
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The change from identifiable and relatable locations and people to something far removed from what most know made a big difference. These were no longer teenagers who were like people we knew being stalked and killed, they were spoilt Hollywood starlets, and sleazy executives. No one really cared much about the characters. Whilst the film did bring back series staples such as Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette, they had limited screen time and failed to bring back a lot of what made the first two films great.
The film tried to make use of its new Hollywood setting, however, by throwing in some celebrity cameos. Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith appear as Jay and Silent Bob touring the film studio, for some bizarre reason, and really throws you out of the movie for a moment thanks to how jarring it is. However, the best part of the movie might actually be the cameo from the late, great Carrie Fisher, who plays a records clerk who is mistaken for Carrie Fisher; the small scene where she laments missing out on getting to play Princess Leia because Carrie Fisher slept with George Lucas is so steeped in Carrie’s trademark humour that you can’t help but love this moment of genuine comedy in a film that has none of its own.
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Scream 3 tried to be a good sequel. It tried to tie things back to the first film by introducing a long-lost half brother for Sydney out of nowhere, who apparently set off the chain of events that caused the entire franchise. But it comes off as feeling cheap, a last minute alteration to the mythology that could have happened, but just comes across as a lazy rewrite because they realised their killer didn’t really make much sense.
The Scream franchise isn’t as bad as some horror series. It has some great moments spread across the four films, and has a central cast of great actors. It’s a shame that the series failed to be consistently good across all instalments, but sadly it seems that the only one where Kevin Williamson didn’t write it is the one to let the franchise down.
Scream 3 was originally released in the USA on 3rd February 2000 and in the UK on 28th April 2000.