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review added: 7/18/00



Scream 3
Collector's Series - 2000 (2000) - Dimension (Buena Vista)

review by Dan Kelly of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Scream 3: Dimension Collector's Series Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B+

Specs and Features

117 mins, R, widescreen (2.35:1), single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:24:54, at the start of chapter 22), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary with Wes Craven, Marianne Maddalena and Patrick Lussier, outtakes, behind the scenes from all 3 Scream movies, deleted scenes with commentary track, alternate ending with commentary track, 14 TV spots, theatrical trailer, international trailer, Creed music video for What If, cast & crew bios, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (29 chapters), languages: English and French (DD 5.1), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

Scream 3 is the supposed final installment in the highly successful horror franchise that was launched in late 1996. Like most horror sequels, it starts to show its age with time, and this one is an adequate end to the series. The advertising barrage that preceded the release of the movie promised that it would provide answers to some of the questions that remained surrounding the death of Sidney's (Neve Campbell) mother. It would be unfair of me to say exactly what the questions and answers were, but I will say this - they aren't questions that were unanswered after the first two movies, but ones that were made up specifically for this film.

A few years after Sidney's college days end, she is now living under an assumed name in northern California. She works for a social service agency on a women's crisis line, but she is so paralyzed by fear and anxiety that she does her work from home. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, work has begun on Stab 3, and things are beginning to get a little scary on the set. Dewey (David Arquette) is hired as an onset consultant, and acts as a sort of bodyguard to Jennifer (a very funny Parker Posey), who is the Stab 3 version of Gayle Weathers (Courtney Cox Arquette).

It seems the killings have started again, and this time they are mirroring those in script for Stab 3. When Sidney learns of the killings, she heads to Hollywood to find out about her mom's past and to aid Detective Mark Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey) in his search for the killer. There are a host of cameos and bit parts by some well-known stars and up-and-comers in Scream 3, including Jenny McCarthy, Matt Keeslar, Jamie Kennedy (reprising his role as Randy for one last time), Heather Matarazzo and Carrie Fisher to name a few. To reveal any more about the plot of the movie would be unfair to those who haven't seen it, since part of the appeal for many viewers are the story developments, both feasible and impractical. But in my opinion, while a lot of Scream 3 was satisfying, an equal amount was disappointing.

New Scream writer Ehren Kruger had a lot to live up to when writing the script. Kevin Williamson's self-referential brand of writing is so much a part of Scream that it wouldn't be the same movie without it. Kruger is Hollywood's new wunderkind, but I didn't completely like his writing style in this (nor did I like his first screenplay, Arlington Road). The reasons are the same - he relies very heavily on conveniences written into the plot. These plot devices are so surrounded in smartly written dialogue, fantastic circumstances and traditional horror genre exploitation, that viewers may not often notice them. Most of the humor he has written into this film falls flat or is only mildly funny, and the characters lack the same edge they had in the previous two films. As with Scream 2, the identity of the killer is arbitrary, and there's no possible way to guess who it is or why he/she/they are the killer(s).

What I did like was Craven's direction of the tense action sequences. As usual, they are done with a great deal of style, tight editing, and of course, jumps and scares. Admittedly, there was zero suspense... but I think that's not entirely Craven's fault. The fact that he managed to do this film and Music of the Heart (two very different films) in such a short period of time is also commendable. Neve Campbell is once again strong and sensitive as Sidney. It seems that she has really grown into the role and knows her character inside and out. She puts a lot of strength into Sidney and lends believability to her actions and motivations.

Maybe I'm being a little hard and putting too many expectations on Scream 3. It is, after all, a slasher film. That could be the problem. It feels like the filmmakers try to instill in the viewer the belief that it is something more than a slasher sequel. "It's not a sequel - it's part of a trilogy!"... as if the term trilogy offers more credibility to the process of filmmaking. I like some critic-proof horror movies (like many of the Friday the 13th and Halloween sequels) because they don't take themselves seriously, and they are nothing more than an excuse for people to jump and scream. Scream 3 is too serious for its own good.

On DVD, Scream 3 sports a pretty striking anamorphic transfer. Colors and flesh tones are rendered faithfully with no bleed or other interference. Black level is incredibly strong but never too dark, and shadow detailing is also nice. I did notice a few problems with the transfer in some of the scenes where there is fog or haze present - you see a bit of digital compression artifacting. But that aside, this is a really good looking DVD. I can't express to you how happy I am that Buena Vista is now seemingly committed to anamorphic enhancement. It truly does make a difference in their product. On the audio side of things, we get a nice, immersive Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The sound field is active, with a very strong and well defined bass response. Discreet use of the surround channels is executed to maximum advantage and the dialogue is always distinct. The 5.1 French language track is also quite good.

Strictly in terms of numbers, there are plenty of features on the disc. They are mostly good, but a lot of what is provided on the disc feels too much like promotional fluff. For instance, did we really need 14 friggin' television commercials? One, two, or maybe even three is okay, but this is overkill. Along with those commercials, there are also the domestic and international trailers. I prefer the international version, but they're both here for your viewing pleasure. The behind-the-scenes featurette is basically a six-minute "warm fuzzy look" at all the films in the series - promotional EPK kind of crap. I learned absolutely nothing from it, and it was only marginally entertaining. An unadvertised extra consists mostly of a minute-long clip of the already included Creed music video. Let's hope this is the last Creed video on a Dimension Collector's Series (the Halloween: H20 DVD also had one).

The rest of the features are good, but are standard features on a special edition. There are deleted scenes (two of which are slightly differing versions of the opening scene), which are nice to have (but which were wisely left out of the final cut of the film). Ditto the alternate ending, which drags on just as long as the one that ultimately made it into the movie. A small set of outtakes shows the lighter side of things on the set of the film. Wes Craven and company (including longtime producing partner Maddalena and editor Lussier) provide an entertaining commentary track that stays pretty focused with what is happening on screen. Craven is generous with his thoughts and experiences, and often encourages the others to share their wealth of knowledgeable about the filming of Scream 3. They continue their commentary on the deleted scenes and the alternate ending, as well. This is easily the best of the extras. I am also very glad to see that Disney is now using the subtitle features for foreign language translation as well as their traditional English for the hearing impaired. All in all, the features are an entertaining batch.

If you liked the film, you'll definitely want to pick up the DVD. It was made with fans of the film and the entire series in mind. It's a nice effort and the DVD looks and sounds great. Keep in mind however, that a box set of the entire series (including a never-before-released Scream 2: Collector's Series and a fourth disc of extras), is in the works for a September release. If you're really a fan, you might want to just rent this film now, and then buy the set later...

Dan Kelly
dankelly@thedigitalbits.com




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