It's sad really when the first two movies in a series start off strong — full of laughs as well as smarts — but the last entry ends the entire franchise with a whimper. The laughs and smarts are still there, but it all adds up to a silly conclusion that takes fans to a deep, dark past. It's a plot twist that comes completely out of left field and seems far too convenient to ever be taken seriously. Then again, according to Randy (Jaime Kennedy) in a posthumous video recording, all bets are off in trilogies. The rules don't apply because the point is to explore a deep, dark past, something that changes everything we knew about the slasher series. Hence, 'Scream 3' fails at meeting the expectations set by the previous two.
Now, don't get me wrong. I actually enjoyed the movie up to the final reveal (a really stupid conclusion, in all honesty), especially for seeing Wes Craven's return to the stuff he knows best. (His flirtation with other genres was thankfully short-lived. The musical drama 'Music of the Heart,' released the prior year, leaves a rather bitter aftertaste. A 'Red Eye' Blu-ray release would be welcome, however!) Set during the production of 'Stab 3,' the movie starts off with some amusingly intriguing nudges at the Hollywood system, and the kills play out much like they do in the script of the faux-horror flick. Liev Schreiber returns as Cotton Weary complaining about the cameo part where he dies, and Jenny McCarthy makes an appearance as an actress with only two scenes before being taken out by yet another Ghostface killer styling himself/herself after the movies. Gee, wonder what angle they play next in part four?
It's all good, nonsensical fun, however. That is until the ending comes barreling along like a monkey wrench. Then there's the fact that our attention is suddenly turned to the quirky romance of Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox). Granted, their banter and below-the-belt remarks are often funny, but it feels strange to see these two, who are clearly meant for comic relief, at the center of the plot. The heart and soul of the series is Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), but she has inexplicably been moved to the background and is living alone in the woods, troubled by really creepy visions and nightmares. By the time she's finally placed in the middle of the action, we're already halfway through the entire picture and running down the list of possible crazed killers, with Patrick Dempsey looking most promising.
Penned by Ehren Krueger ('Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,' 'The Ring,' 'The Brothers Grimm'), this sudden shift in focus away from Sidney is a bit bizarre since the closing moments reveal the world revolves around her and her mother. But as mentioned earlier, there is plenty of fun to be had in this third installment. The best scares are early on with Sidney's chilling apparitions, but they turn out not to serve much purpose except to freak out the audience. Parker Posey as Jennifer Jolie playing Gale Weathers is a great character and offers a few facetious observations about actors portraying real-life people. And there's also the fun game of name that star in a cameo with Lance Henriksen, Carrie Fisher, Roger Corman, and Jay & Silent Bob of all people.
Although lacking some of the smarts found in the previous two movies, 'Scream 3' does come with some good, hearty laughs and a few witty jabs at the film industry. The problem is the fact that the ending's a terrible cheat to a franchise that originally started as a parody of the horror genre, but eventually evolved into a joke in and of itself. It's not entirely clear if the movie is as invested in breaking down convention as before or venturing to satirize audience reaction to the 'Scream' flicks. One character played by Deon Richmond notes public outcry for filmmakers killing the Randy character in the 'Stab' sequel. There are several good moments to be had in this final chapter (or is it?), but the payoff is not worth the ticket price. Really sad for a fairly good run of horror features.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Lionsgate Films Home Entertainment brings 'Scream 3' to Blu-ray as on a Region A locked, BD25 disc and housed in a blue eco-case. At startup, fans can enjoy a trailer for the latest installment in the franchise, along with two promos for the 'Saw' series and other Blu-ray releases from the studio. Afterwards, we have the standard menu selection with full-motion clips and music playing in the background.
Being the last of the 'Scream' series, part three looks expectedly better on Blu-ray than the first two, but it's still far from what it could be.
The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.35:1) displays a fuller and richer color palette, especially in the bold primaries. Contrast is comfortably bright and stable, allowing for plenty of visibility in the distance, and black levels are very deep and accurate though they falter a tad in a few scenes. There are also some moments when darker portions overwhelm background info, but overall, everything remains clear and perceptible. The transfer is appreciably well-detailed, showing very good definition in trees, architecture, hair, and clothing. Facial complexions appear natural and healthy with great texture in close-up.
The only nagging issue is once again is a bit of chroma noise around the edges of several objects and the highlights. There's also evidence of some digital sharpening, likely due to the studio using an aged DVD print, but it's thankfully not as ghastly as the previous two films or to the extent of glaring halos. Other than that, 'Scream 3' doesn't look half bad and makes a passable entry into the world of high-def video.
Although it falls a tad on the loud side, the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack for this third slasher flick is still fairly entertaining, offering some fun jump scares.
Rear activity is satisfying and often enveloping, with subtle ambient effects and several directional cues that are discrete and convincing. Music also bleeds into the background fluidly and keeps viewers engaged. The volume understandably jumps a few decibels for moments of shock and suspense, but dynamic range remains clean and sharp, maintaining good clarity detail. Low bass carries a healthy, robust energy which nicely adds to the design's intensity. The front soundstage feels very wide and welcoming with well-balanced channel separation and excellent dialogue reproduction.
In the end, 'Scream 3' arrives on Blu-ray with a great lossless mix.
Like its predecessors, 'Scream 3' comes with the same supplemental material as its DVD counterpart.
'Scream 3' was supposed to be the final installment to Wes Craven's slasher franchise, but obviously, that's not happening. The third film actually starts off fairly strong and entertaining, but the shock reveal at the end is so over the top that the entire movie is practically ruined. The Blu-ray comes with passable video, very good audio, and supplements are the same as the previous DVD. As with part two, fans might want to wait for the inevitable double-dip collection with the upcoming 'Scre4m' movie. A rental is the safest bet.