Scream was probably one of the most eagerly-awaited movies of . With its returning three principle characters and director Wes Craven, many fans of the first two films were eager to see just how the series would end, and also if new writer Ehren Kruger could match Williamson’s clever wit and ability to shock. So when the final installment eventually hit cinemas, there was already-predicted controversy surrounding it. Scream is so different from its two predecessors that it feels like it should be found in a completely different series, if not a completely stand-alone movie in itself. Whereas the first two in the Scream Trilogy were more Horror/Comedy, Scream plays on the Thriller side of things, and there is an added splash of humour, suspense and surprise thrown in for effect.
This shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing, however, for those of you worried that it strays too far from Williamsons’ original vision. It seems like a logical step for the third movie to differ from its predeccesors – the first Scream introduces Sidney as an innocent teenager who is dependant on others while still having a core strength, then Scream re-introduces Sidney as a young adult; a little older and a little wiser, but still dependant on her friends and peers. Scream finds Sidney now as an able-bodied woman who can take care of herself. It was perhaps not a conscious thing, but bringing in a new writer has given the third installment a far more adult feel.
Despite many critics statements that the opening sequence was a let-down, I found it to be very original, clever and shocking. Also, director Craven seems to have taken a different angle with this installment. Whereas in the first two Scream’s the killer would jump out from unexpected places, at times Scream allows the viewer to spot the killer before the victim (i.e the opening death and the second death). Surprisingly this actually heightens the suspense, and although it doesn’t cause a physical jolt, it does manage to get the viewer on the edge of their seat in anticipation. Craven has wisely noted that Scream faltered slightly because the audience knew from the first movie pretty much where the killer would jump out from, so with this he has taken an alternate approach (although there are many jumps to be had from the old technique too) which is effective and relatively fresh.
Another notable difference in Scream is the style of the story’s progression. Although in the first two movies the mystery of who the killer(s) are plays a large part, Scream is far more plot-heavy and mysterious. Writer Ehren Kruger cleverly weaves what we already know about certain individuals in with new facts (as, as Randy points out, is customary for the final chapter in a trilogy), creating a story that is very clever and equally surprising.
After repeated viewings, it became clear to me how rather slow and uneventful action-wise the first fifty minutes of the film are. After the initial opening sequence, the movie is very Scooby-Doo-ish as Gale Weathers and her on-screen counterpart (an excellent turn from Parker Posey) run around uncovering clues while the dead bodies gradually pile up. During this time, the humour is rather goofy and obvious, and nowhere near up to par with Kevin Williamson’s dry and dark humour. It also seemed that writer Ehren Kruger wasn’t able to recognise scenes that would benefit a chase or horrific scene – for example, why couldn’t Sidney have been attacked by the killer when she was isolated and alone in her in-the-middle-of-nowhere house, before she took off to Hollywood to find Dewey? Surely this could have been a remarkable and chilling scene in the isolated surroundings, but sadly Kruger seemed unable to conjure these ideas from a mainly comedy-driven script. However, after a breath-taking scene with Sidney in the set of Woodsboro on the fifty-minute mark, the movie really takes off, and the final hour is a complete thrill-ride with twists and turns and some brilliant scenes. An hour in, Scream becomes the movie that we all paid to see.
There are many welcome cameos. Most notable are Randy (who explains the rules of a trilogy through a video recording he made prior to his death in Scream ) and Carrie Fisher, whose short but hilarious scene is very neat. As well as a nice bit-part for Lance Henriksen (who is shamefully under-used).
The new characters are fresh and, at times extremely funny (Parker Posey is a joy to watch as she tries desperately to be Gale Weathers and, surprisingly, succeeding in many subtle ways), although some (i.e Deon Richmond) are under-developed and badly-used which is a shame.
While a rather slow mid-section stops Scream being the roller-coster ride all the way through that it should have been, the movie contains some extremely memorable moments and the final hour is compelling viewing. The new cast members bring fresh performances to the screen, and this is a fitting finale to a ground-breaking and continually good standard series.