Three Things That Don’t Suck About ‘Scream 3’... Thank God This List Doesn’t Go to Four
While I have, and forever will, defend the third installment of Wes Craven’s meta-slasher horror franchise, Scream 3 certainly has the most flaws in the series. It’s practically devoid of any real scares, as they apparently decided to sacrifice any thriller elements for some borderline slapstick sequences instead. It has that utterly bizarre dream sequence with Sidney’s mom that only bloats the already swollen plot, and let’s not even talk about the franchise’s worst, most anti-climactic Ghostface reveal to date. Roman Bridger as a character is, for all his screen time, more forgettable than that inexplicable Jay and Silent Bob cameo.
And yet, ‘The One Where Hollywood Still Uses Fax Machines’ does have its redeeming qualities, despite Courteney Cox unfortunately trying to pull off bangs and Jenny McCarthy unfortunately trying to pull off acting. So, just like we’ve done with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the first X-Men movie to botch the Dark Phoenix story, let’s dive into three reasons why Scream 3 doesn’t totally suck…
It Firmly Established Gale Weathers as the MVP
Quick question: How many female characters can you think of that lead a horror whodunit? I’m not talking about the ‘Final Girl’ trope; I’m referring to women who lead the investigation on who the heck decided to go around slashing folks while looking like a Spirit Halloween mascot. Yeah, there just aren’t that many lead women trying to uncover the identity of some killer in a horror movie — they all lack a feisty reporter with more ambition than tack and talking smack, all while wearing the most eye-searing outfits on the job.
Gale Weathers not only wrote the books (that’s right, plural) on Woodsboro’s most famous killings, but she helped solve many of the Ghostface killings, saving people in the process. She’s been stabbed, shot and rendered unconscious multiple times over many years, yet she’s always managed to bounce back (even though the same can’t be said about her hairstyles).
And while Miss Weathers may have some selfish motivations for inserting herself into the never-ending Woodsboro Slasher Saga, she does at least take these investigations seriously — unlike a certain sheriff who leaves her son alone at home to pick up sushi while a psychopath is going around killing teenagers in Scream V.
While we get a lot of action from Gale in the first two Scream films, the third one sees her really get in on the action — more so than our lead girl Sidney. Detective Kincaid seeks out Gale after Cotton Weary gets chopped because, as Kincaid puts it, she’s the “Woodsboro authority” on everything Ghostface. She figures out Roman’s cryptic photo drops about Sidney’s mother, Maureen Prescott, and with some key card help from her Stab 3 counterpart Jennifer Jolie (Parker Posey), Gale uncovers Maureen’s sordid Hollywood backstory. And again, our investigative reporter with the snappy tongue lives to see another day — and movie.
Much has been said about Scream V (2022) and its underuse of Sidney, as well as the fact that she’s completely missing from the latest New York rendition, Scream 6, but in my opinion, our Final Girl’s character arc really concluded with Scream 3, ending with Sidney finally finding peace (and a seemingly decent man to boot). The poor woman only got dragged into Scream 4’s madness by a psychotic cousin who would surely have been addicted to TikTok. Scream 4 didn’t do or change anything about Sidney’s plight, and while she’s quietly been left to live her life somewhere in a cave or whatever, Gale Weathers has had one heck of a journey in every single sequel, firmly cementing herself as the series’ “Final Woman” who gets to solve every new wax-masked killer, and live to write the tale.
The Movie Did a Great Play on Doubles
There’s the cast of Stab 3 versus their real-life counterparts, the replication of Woodsboro as a Hollywood film set and what we knew of Maureen Prescott and the reveal of her true backstory. Those are just three examples of how the movie incorporated its theme of doubles to juxtapose imitation with reality. Almost every character in this movie has a double. Even Carrie Fisher plays her own (hilarious) doppelganger, and the movie ends with us learning that Sidney has a double, too — in the form of an evil, psychotic brother who also looks like a giant dweeb.
During the course of Scream 3, Gale Weathers discovers that when Maureen Prescott was 18, she moved to L.A. to try her hand at acting. Only, like many other starlets, she ended up on Hollywood’s notorious casting couch, where men did with her what they wanted before throwing her to the curb. Her past echoes throughout the movie’s real-time story beats. Jennifer Jolie admits she slept with the director of Stab 3 (Roman), Fisher’s character Bianca alludes to losing out on playing Princess Leia because her lookalike (supposedly the real Carrie Fisher) slept with George Lucas and Angelina (Emily Mortimer) lets it slip that she slept with producer John Milton to get the part of Sidney in Stab 3.
Everything doubles in this movie — there’s even a two-way mirror scene which, given the fact that it plays out in scumbag Milton’s house, makes it so much grosser when it claims the life of yet another woman.
Playing doubles is a classic strategy for a whodunit, as it essentially presents every character as a possible person of interest. The way Scream 3 took that concept and ran with it might not have been perfect, but it makes it more than just a running gag and adds to the commentary of how women are treated in the film industry in general. It shows us what we don’t want to see without banging us over the head with it.
Both Parker Posey and Carrie Fisher Are In It
Fisher’s cameo in Scream 3 was an unexpected delight and perfectly played into the movie’s meta-commentary on trilogies by having the Princess of Star Wars pop up with her hair down and smoking Marlboros like a washed-up has-been.
What makes that scene even better is that Posey is also there. Posey owns Scream 3 as the actress cast to play Gale Weathers, providing the best lines in the entire movie by far. The way Posey and Cox play off each other never gets old (unlike jokes about bangs).
Posey is a genius when it comes to comedy, so it’s no wonder that her pacing and timing slices through Scream 3 like some pair of scissors sliced through Gale’s fringe (not sorry). Every scene Posey so eloquently graced with her presence is 10 times more watchable because of it, and most importantly, no one can jump into another person’s arms quite like she does.
And yes, her brand of comedy fed into the strange Scooby-Doo-like goofiness of Scream 3, but if I’m going to watch that kind of comedy horror, I surely want her in it.
Zanandi is, incredulously, still on Twitter.