Scream 3

Scream 3 (2000)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox Arquette, Scott Foley
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurette, Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending, Outtakes, Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots, Music Video, and more

In the film "Scream 3", there is a lot of talk about movie trilogies and the attributes that go along with them. The characters talk about how "all bets are off" in the third chapter of a trilogy, and how you never know who’s going to die. What they don’t talk about is how disappointing it is when a trilogy goes out with a whimper instead of a bang. "Scream 3" leaves more questions than answers and doesn’t feel like a fitting ending to the trilogy. However, the DVD release of "Scream 3" gives viewers a chance to pour over the film and decide how it ranks when compared to the first two films.

"Scream 3" takes place over a year after the events in "Scream 2". You may remember that the film "Stab", based on the murders in Woodsboro, was mentioned in "Scream 2." Much of "Scream 3" takes place in and around the production of a new film, "Stab 3: Return to Woodsboro." (Apparently, "Stab 2" fictionalized the story from "Scream 2". Is everyone confused now?) One of the actors in "Stab 3" has been murdered (I won’t say who, for those of you who haven’t seen the film.), and the police are investigating. A photo has been found at the scene of the crime and Detective Mark Kincaid approaches reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox-Arquette) for more information about it. Gale identifies the woman in the photo as Maureen Prescott, the woman whose murder set off the events in "Scream."

Gale visits the set of "Stab 3" and is surprised to run into Dewey (David Arquette). Dewey is acting as a consultant on the film and is an assistant to Jennifer Jolie (Parker Posey), who is portraying Gale Weathers in "Stab 3". (Confused yet?) It seems that after the events in "Scream 2", Gale and Dewey made a go at a relationship, but it didn’t work. Once on the movie set, Gale learns that producer John Milton (Lance Henriksen) and director Roman Bridger (Scott Foley) want to continue the production, despite the murder. Detective Kincaid questions the cast and crew, but because of the photo found at the murder scene, he really wants to question Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell).

Sidney is now a recluse, working as a phone counselor under an assumed name. Still, she is plagued by nightmares of the ghostface killer and these intensify once she learns of the murders on the set of "Stab 3". Once the killer attempts to target Sidney directly, she decides to bring herself out of hiding and help with the investigation. Now, it is up to Sidney, Gail, and Dewey, with some uninvited help from Jennifer to discover the identity of the killer and close the final chapter of the "Scream" saga.

Let’s get one thing straight, compared to a lot of movies out there, "Scream 3" is a superior product. It’s well-made, well-acted and definitely has a big-budget look. However, when it is compared to the first two "Scream" films, it just doesn’t make the grade. I’ve heard many critics blame the films shortcomings on writer Ehren Kruger (pinch-hitting for Kevin Williamson on this one). And while the problems do lie within the story, keep in mind that the executives obviously felt comfortable with shooting his script, so all of the blame can’t be placed on Kruger. The story in "Scream 3" is at once too simplified, and at the same time overly complicated. There are murders, our heroes investigate, and the killer is unmasked — that’s about all that happens. But, during all of this we are presented with the film within a film angle with many characters who we know nothing about, and eventually the whole thing becomes tiresome. There are also many plot holes in the film, like the missing explanation how the killer got Sidney’s phone number in the first place. It’s interesting to note that during the <$commentary,audio commentary>, Wes Craven discloses that the script was being written as the film was being shot. I believe it!

All of my nitpicking aside, "Scream 3" isn’t entirely bad, and is quite fun at times. Courtney Cox-Arquette and David Arquette are in top form and bring a sense of outrageousness to the film. And in a surprising performance, "Indy Queen" Parker Posey is very funny as well. The short time that Neve Campbell is on screen (she doesn’t really join the action until almost an hour into the film and was only on the set for 20 days), she is excellent and gives a very strong performance. Look for a cameo by Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) of "Clerks"/"Mallrats"/"Chasing Amy"/"Dogma" fame, and if you aren’t too distracted by them, you’ll even notice Wes Craven in the same frame.

Speaking of Wes Craven, he still proves that he is a great director by taking the lackluster story and doing something with it. There are some very suspenseful scenes in "Scream 3", especially the pre-credit sequence and the scene where Sidney visits the movie set. While there aren’t that many dazzling shots in "Scream 3" (like the killer’s face in Henry Winkler’s eye in "Scream"), Craven uses his subtle touch to keep things moving along at a nice pace, even if the precedings don’t make a great deal of sense.

The DVD of "Scream 3" is a Dimension Collector’s Edition and contains many exciting features. The film itself is presented in an <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> and is <$PS,letterboxed> at 2.35:1. The framing of the film appears to be accurate, as there is no bending or warping of the image. The picture itself is crisp and clear, revealing no defects in the source print or noticeable artifacting. Still, this is only an average video transfer. The colors are good, and the picture isn’t too dark or too bright, but the image doesn’t have the depth or crispness of some other recent releases. I realize that I’m nitpicking again, but I feel that the video transfer of "Scream 3" could have been given a little more life.

Now, the audio on the DVD is a different story entirely. The audio mix on "Scream 3" is a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> mix and it sounds great. This is one of the best surround mixes that I’ve ever heard. While plenty of films offer surround sound, it seems that very few give us genuine stereo surround sound. But, with "Scream 3" the surround sound speakers are busy throughout the film, with the locations of the characters on-screen being reflected in the speaker placement of the sound. This is how surround sound DVDs should sound and feel, if you will. By offering us what I call a "directional surround sound", another level of experience is added to the film, helping to draw the viewer into the film. When Gale is behind Dewey, and her voice comes from behind me (and off to the right), I get the feeling that I’m there. Kudos to the sound editor on this audio mix!

The "Scream 3" DVD gives us an <$commentary,audio commentary> featuring director Wes Craven, producer Marianne Maddalena, and editor Patrick Lussier. This commentary is informative, but a great deal of the information seems to be things that we shouldn’t know, such as the aforementioned daily writing of the script and multiple gafs. Craven is very animated in his conversation and is quick to praise his actors. However, the commentary seems to drag at times and I got the feeling that the three participants kept talking about the same things over and over. However, we do get an insight into how the film was made and Craven is very honest with his feelings about certain scenes.

There are three deleted scenes offered on the DVD, all with optional <$commentary,audio commentary>. Two of the scenes are alternate versions of the pre-credit sequence and the other is a useless scene involving Jenny McCarthy and a studio guard. There is also an "alternate ending". I’d hoped that this would be a totally different ending with a different killer, you know, something that was filmed to keep the cast and crew guessing, but it’s only a shorter version of the actual ending. It’s interesting to note that the pre-credit sequence was altered so that it’s less violent, but a great deal of violence (and all out Neve-abuse!) was added to the ending. Craven claims that the ending needed to be "beefed up", but I can’t imagine why a WWF-style fight was called for.

There is a disappointing behind the scenes featurette which offers footage from all three "Scream" films, with no narration or conceivable order. There are several blooper-like outtakes, most of which entail David Arquette blowing his lines. (I wonder what the budget would have been without his goofs?) There is a soundtrack promo which includes portions of the video for the Creed song "What if?", and another segment which includes the entire video for the song. Two theatrical trailers and fourteen different TV spots, as well as extensive talent files can also be found on the release.

While "Scream 3" was a disappointment, the DVD has its merits. The video transfer is satisfactory, but the surround sound must be experienced. The supplements are adequate, and numerous. It’s obvious that Buena Vista Home Video put a lot of effort into this release and this gives us hope for their future releases. Keep in mind that the "Scream 3" DVD is available now, and it will also be included in the "Scream" box set which is coming this fall. So, it’s your choice to buy it now, or wait and have your own "Scream-fest" later on.