Lionsgate // 2000 // 117 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // April 4th, 2011
Sidney: "Hey, Detective. What's your favorite scary
Mark: "My life."
Sidney: "Mine too."
Because Scream 4 is due to hit theaters on 15 April 2011, here comes the entire original Scream franchise on Blu-ray. I drew the short straw and ended up with the sub par final chapter of the first trilogy which offers up a familiar story with the law of diminishing returns in full effect. Scream 3 was not written by Kevin Williamson, and as a result it becomes the type of movie the first two were making fun of -- very "been there, done that," despite inventively moving the whole gang to Hollywood. And yet it still has all the familiar faces and enough thrills and chills to make it a Scream movie. The Blu-ray offers an audio/visual upgrade, but possesses the same extras found on the DVD "Collector's Edition."
They are making a movie called Stab 3 in Hollywood, and the ghostface killer is back in action. As the bodies keep piling up for real, Sidney (Neve Campbell, Wild Things) comes out of seclusion to help catch the copycat killer. It's not long before Gale (Courtney Cox, Cougar Town) and Dewey (David Arquette, Never Been Kissed) are on the set too, running into Hollywood versions of themselves, an ambitious starlet (Parker Posey, Blade: Trinity) and the blonde first victim (Jenny McCarthy, Scary Movie 3). New mysteries lead to the resolution of questions posed by the very first Scream and the cycle finally closes. Well, at least until the reboot eleven years later.
With one key franchise player missing from the start of production, there was an unlikely new writing talent onboard -- Ehren Kreuger, who would go on to script the American adaptations of The Ring and The Skeleton Key. Meanwhile, Kevin Williamson was busy developing two television series, Glory Days and Dawson's Creek, though rumor has it he provided some notes and ideas. Still, the script was not nailed down until long after it should have been. Kreuger scrambled with rewrites until after shooting began, and the cast complained. Thanks to pressure from the studio, things were changing continuously, including the identity of the killer so as not to offend any families of the Columbine massacre. In fact, three different endings were created, to keep the media guessing...but everyone seemed mystified about what was going on.
Thankfully, some things didn't change. Wes Craven was back as director (though rumor had it he only returned so he could direct his passion project, Music of the Heart), as were all of the original lead actors, and speculation swirled that Jamie Kennedy as Randy would be in the mix once more, though it was decided last minute that he would only be shown in a video cameo, because an idea to resurrect him seemed too much for fans to swallow. Also included were Patrick Dempsey (long before Grey's Anatomy) and indie screen queen Parker Posey who together brought in the literal new blood. Cameos included Star Wars alumna Carrie Fisher, and hip icons such as Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith as their Jay and Silent Bob characters.
While the third time wasn't a charm for critics, the box office wasn't too bad. Scream 3 certainly wasn't as big a hit as the previous two chapters, but it did well enough to be termed a financial gain by the studio and distributor. The film feels a little too much like a retread, and it is far less bloody; the first film used fifty gallons of artificial blood, the second thirty, and this one only ten. Though it does retain the self-aware angle of "horror movie rules," this time they seem far more nebulous than ever. The good thing is it has the same tone and some strong performances to carry it home to its conclusion. The actors save this one, and there is enough of the original chemistry among them to keep things afloat.
Scream 3 on Blu-ray looks better than its previous DVD incarnation, but only mildly so. The film appears soft in many spots with too little contrast rendering it flat without much depth. Black levels are not up to par in many shots, and that hurts a film full of inky sequences meant to provide menace. Those shadows just don't look deep enough to be hiding a ghostface killer. The bright scenes offer a nice color saturation as well as some brilliant clarity, but manipulated grain in the less lit parts becomes all too apparent. I fear the appearance of edge enhancement suggests not much was done to upgrade the original transfer. It looks better than those of Scream and Scream 2, but it's also the most recent technological effort.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is crisp and well executed, often playing up the movie's misdirection. If there's any reason to make a purchase to upgrade, it's for the soundtrack which is a vast improvement over the initial DVD release. The dynamics of the sound field have been upped a notch, and that alone is impressive.
Bonus features include a dry and overly technical commentary from director Wes Craven, editor Patrick Lussier, and producer Marianne Maddalena. Without any of the cast or writers, they are forced to talk shop for most of the track. Also included are some deleted scenes as well as an alternate ending. These final few minutes are actually scarier than what made it into the final film, but were dismissed and reshot for some strange reason. Optional commentary is available for all of these excised sequences. Finally, there is a funny blooper reel, a "behind the scenes" montage, and a "What If" video from Creed which has David Arquette reprising his Dewey role.
Scream 3 may be lacking in the script department, but the stars made it fun to go back to the self-aware horror movie well one more time. On Blu-ray, it gets nothing more than a port over from the standard definition with the same extras and just a minor upgrade in the audio and visuals. Fans of the franchise will be glad to see it surface, but it's nothing earthshaking. All the way around, it's happy to just be a middle of the road third chapter.
Guilty of being the third in a series.
Review content copyright © 2011 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 117 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Alternate Ending
* Deleted Scenes
* Blooper Reel
* Music Video