By Ray Schwetz
The "Scream Trilogy" defined the state of horror in the 90s. Audiences were more sophisticated. Horror films following fairly traditional formulas failed miserably ("Dr.Giggles"). High concept horror films bit off more than they could chew ("Mary Shelley's Frankenstien"). Things began to look pretty bleak for horror films. Then came Wes Craven's "Scream." "Scream" managed to succeed where most horror/comedies fail. It was both scary and funny. The twist on the slasher premise was brilliant. Make the potential teenaged victims of the film aware of the conventions of horror. This self-referential formula proved to be a success with audiences and critics alike. The relatively low budget film went on to make over $100 million and spawn 2 sequels.
"Scream 3" is the conclusion of this intended trilogy. Somehow, considering the box office receipts, I doubt that's going to stop Dimension films from making another one. However, Craven and new writer Ehren Kruger ("Arlington Road"), present a film that definitely feels final. This time around Sydney (Neve Campbell) lives in a secluded house in the woods, working (ironically enough) as an operator for a women's crisis center. Stab 3, the second sequel to the movie based on Gale Weathers' "The Woodsboro Murders," is being filmed. The cast begin to get picked off in the order that their characters die in the script. Gale (Courtney Cox), Dewey (David Arquette), and a Hollywood cop (a matured Patrick Dempsey) enlist Syd's help to find the identity of the killer.
In a brief cameo from the beyond, Randy (Jamie Kennedy) warns that the rules of a horror trilogy state: anything goes. While "Scream 3" lacks the dramatic thrust of its predecessors (the middle act drags a bit), it is an entertaining film that brings closure to the lives of characters that "Scream" fans have grown to love. All questions are answered. This is definitely the weakest entry to the "Scream Trilogy," but it does have better opening and concluding segments than "Scream 2." In this film, the identity of the killer may be near impossible to guess, but upon its revelation, there is new light shed on the previous films. Also, although the dialogue isn't quite as snappy as the previous two films (the absence of Kevin Williamson is felt), writer Kruger throws the us a few decent curves in the story.
The Dimension Collector's Series DVD of "Scream 3" is sensational. The picture is everything you'd expect from a big budget Hollywood release. It's slick and crystal clear. Black levels are very good and there are no compression artifacts present. The film is presented at an accurate 2.35:1 aspect ratio The 5.1 mix is outstanding. Your subwoofer will get the workout of its life. Also, the surround channels are extremely active. This 5.1 mix is demonstration quality, folks. There are an exhaustive amount of extras on this disc, which I consider one of the first to truly earn the Dimension moniker "Collector's Series." We have the commentary with writer and director, outtakes, deleted sequences (including an interesting alternate take of the opening murder), a featurette, and Creed's "Scream" themed video for "What If" starring Deputy Dewey himself, David Arquette. Also included is some behind the scenes footage, TV spots, and trailers. This disc is sure to please "Scream" fans.
For diehard fans, there is also a "Scream" box set which includes the same previously released "Scream" Collector?eries DVD, a newly remastered "Scream 2" disc with extras, this DVD I just reviewed, and a fourth disc with special features and DVD-Rom bonuses. I won't be reviewing this box. I'd love to buy it, but I'm on a budget. Besides, the first "Scream" DVD is the same one I bought over a year ago and it still does not contain the director's unrated cut and I already own "Scream 3." My only regret is that I won't be able to trade in my movie only version of "Scream 2" for the new one. Honestly, I kind of feel ripped off. So, I'll wait for the "Scream 2" disc to be issued separately. If you haven?ought these DVDs already, I'm sure the box set is worth the wait. For others, well, let your conscience be your guide.