WARNING: PLOT POINTS ARE GIVEN AWAY, SO IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE OR DON'T WANT TO KNOW, PLEASE DO NOT CONTINUE READING
As I've said before, I have little use for sequels, which was I was surprised to find myself going to SCREAM 2, and even more surprised that I enjoyed it. Like the first one, it was fast, scary, funny, and took some nice satiric jibes. Even the much debated identity of the killer in the second one made sense as a satiric swipe at horror movies, so it didn't bother me. I didn't know if they'd be able to keep it going for a third movie, especially when hearing Kevin Williamson's involvement was going to be minimal(he's a producer, and he wrote an outline which eventual writer Ehren Kruger worked from), but I liked the first two, I was especially pleased to see Scott Foley(from FELICITY) and Parker Posey in the cast, and I was intrigued to see what happened. In retrospect, I probably should have waited for video.
Certainly the opening shows a little promise; instead of the usual celebrity cameo, we have a spoof of that, with Cotton Weary(Liev Schrieber), who's now a Geraldo-type talk show host, complaining about having to do a cameo in STAB 3(the movie within a movie here), so we know it's spoofing itself. The problem, of course, is we know Cotton's going to get killed, but Craven is able to draw suspense throughout the scene. We also get the stated purpose here during the phone call(which, also a bit clever, starts out with a woman's voice before the familiar tone of Roger L. Jackson as THE voice kicks in); the killer wants to find Sidney.
Sidney, of course, is living in seclusion, under a new name and barely going outside the house(which, of course, is under heavy alarm), so at first, she's almost like an afterthought to the movie. Instead, the center is on Gail Weathers, the tabloid reporter, now an entertainment reporter, who uses her reporter skills to play detective when Cotton is killed, and she decides to assist the police, specifically Detective Kincaid(Patrick Dempsey), in the case. Then there's Dewey, who's a technical advisor to STAB 3, the movie, and they of course worry about what's going to happen.
There's all kinds of potential here, and it's directed well, but it isn't written as well as I think Williamson would have done. There are scares which still work, and while the Dewey/Gail relationship seems a little old hat, the two Arquettes obviously like working with each other, and their familiarity with us helps smooth that over. Also, while Campbell is disconnected, she's still sympathetic, and while she doesn't have the same fun with herself as she did in the first one, I understood that. And there is humor, most of it coming from Posey as the actress playing Gail in STAB 3; few actresses can make contempt funny like she can. There's also the standard satiric bite(the bodyguard who guarded Julia Roberts and Salman Rushdie but ends up toast here).
But as I said, it isn't written as well, and the primary weakness is the killer. In some senses, I guess, having the director(Foley) be the killer makes sense, because he has the technical expertise to handle things. But it seems to come out of nowhere, and perhaps to distract us from that, Kruger gives us the idea of him being a long-lost relative of Sidney's, which is ridiculous. Perhaps because of that too, Foley goes way over the top, which is funny at first, but then becomes tiresome. Also, Kruger cribs not from other horror movies here, but from the first SCREAM(the cloning of the cell phone being a prime example). And while Williamson's red herrings were pretty clever, this one seems not thought out. Emily Mortimer's character(she plays the actress who plays Sidney) is a perfect example; there are two indications she might be the killer(three, if you count the woman's voice to Cotton), and yet she's killed off almost as an afterthought. Finally, as to compensate for all of this, there are a lot more killings to cover up. Which begs the question; if all he wanted was to find Sidney(as stated early on several times), why not just take Dewey, Gail, and Cotton et al hostage? The first two movies mocked the Idiot Plot Rule; this one mostly personifies it.
It's a shame, because there could have been something made from all this(oh, almost forgot; Dempsey, who I normally don't like, is surprisingly good, and also unrecognizable here). But this certainly doesn't break any rules. Even the Jamie Kennedy cameo seems obligatory rather than fresh. This suggest they should have stopped at the second one.