Not Guilty: Why Scream 3 shouldn't be considered a franchise-killer

In Not Guilty, we look at movies that the general consensus tells us that we should feel bad for liking, but that our hearts tell us we should embrace -- "guilty pleasures" we don't feel guilty about. This time around, we take on the sequel that horror fans forgot, Scream 3.

Feb. 4, 2000, marked the end of an era. It was the release date for [what we thought was] the third and final film in the Scream saga. Although it received mixed reviews, scoring a 36 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, Scream 3 was still a box-office success. Domestically, it earned $89.1 million, more than double its production budget ($40 million). It also became the third-highest-grossing slasher film of all time, just behind Scream 2 ($101. 3 million) and Scream ($103 million).

If you saw Scream 3 opening weekend, you probably think one of two things: It was a decent film that aged terribly, or it was a terrible film that ruined the franchise. I’m one of the few people who enjoyed it then and still do now. Before you grab your pitchforks and torches, hear me out.

Scream 3 has several redeemable qualities that make it the perfect companion to the original. The first film was a satire that highlighted slasher movie tropes. By the time you get to Scream 3, that commentary is amplified. Instead of just focusing on a genre, it tackles the entire film industry.

It’s meta to the extreme.


By the year 2000, the genre Scream helped revive was oversaturated with ripoffs. From I Know What You Did Last Summer to Urban Legend, there wasn’t a horror movie around that didn’t feature a cloaked killer stalking an attractive WB star. Even Scream 2, which focused on Sidney Prescott’s (Neve Campbell) college years, fell victim to it. That’s why Scream 3 is so refreshing. It calls itself out.

The storyline follows the original Scream characters but eventually converges with stars of the fictional Stab series. In between murders, viewers are hit with a harsh and yet hilarious look at the entertainment industry. You meet the shady director, the desperate starlet, the token minority and the failed actress, played by scene-stealer Carrie Fisher.

Parker Posey


I could watch Parker Posey as Jennifer Jolie playing Gale Weathers all day. Neve Campbell may be the franchise heroine, but Posey is the star of this film. She clearly understood the tone. Considering her work with mockumentary legend Christopher Guest, I’m not surprised. Posey’s turn as an overly dedicated method actress was a sight to behold.

Where it all began

Scream 3 takes it back to the beginning. Sidney is forced to revisit her mother’s death, which occurred before the first film. Originally, we were told Sidney’s ex-boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) killed Maureen Prescott (Lynn McRee) after discovering her affair with his father. But Scream 3 adds a soap opera twist that you either love or hate. It’s revealed that Stab 3 movie director Roman Bridger (Scott Foley) is Sidney’s half-brother and also Ghostface. Maureen gave Roman up for adoption with no intention of reconnecting with him later in life. Her rejection made him bitter and vengeful. It turns out Roman is the one who coaxed Billy into killing Maureen. It's a real full-circle moment. Roman had been manipulating Sidney's life for years.

No damsel. No distress.


My favorite thing about slasher movies is the showdown between the killer and the Final Girl. In Scream 3, Sidney really lets Roman have it. He delivers a villainous monologue in which he details how he was driven to murder. Yet Sidney speaks for the audience when she interjects with,  “God, stop your whining and get on with it. I’ve heard this sh-t before … Why don’t you take some f—king responsibility!”

Sidney is the perfect example of a heroine who’s learned from past mistakes. She gets punched and punches right back. She gets shot but survives because she’s wearing a bulletproof vest. She makes sure Roman is shot in the head and not the chest. She does everything you'd want her to do in that moment. It shows that Sidney has evolved. They don't call her a Final Girl for nothing.

Scream 3 is funnier and more meta than the previous two films combined. Despite its Hollywood makeover, it still maintains the true essence of the original. I recommend you give it another go. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Do you think Scream 3 gets a bad rap?


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