Scream 3

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Someone has taken their love of bad horror movies about bad horror movies too far. No. 3 in this trilogy is as goofy as its predecessors. But at least it promises that the Scream that started in 1996 has finally stopped.

Big on hype, low on even comic value, this latest installment in a cheesy series means to scare, confuse and, in its own words, terminally entertain. While the movie does manage to evoke a few jumps and gasps, it does little more.

Scream 3 scrambles for all the buttons slasher flicks are supposed to push. No, don’t go in the basement! Why doesn’t she call the police? No, you idiot, take your gun with you. Don’t hide in that dark closet with the secret trap door! But anybody can use fast action, dumb actors and stab scenes to get a reaction.

While Scream 3 seems cleverly self-aware – throwing its plot up around the returning Gale Sanders (Courtney Cox) nosing around the set of the fictive flick Stab 3. But it doesn’t quite cut it as a real parody. Most of the cell-phone-carrying, pretentious Hollywood-stereotype play lacks precision and innovation. And dulling its comic edge on the cute-but-not-funny main character, Sydney (Neve Campbell), doesn’t help.

Quick one-liners that play on reality as much as they rewrite history and just plain off-the-wall moments – like a cameo where Carrie Fisher complains that she never got the Princess Leah role because she didn’t sleep with George Lucas – contribute to the sense that Scream 3 knows how to jab, but not how to aim.

The heavily hyped surprise ending – where the killer in the goofy mask is revealed – is about as compelling as pulling a toy surprise out of a cereal box. Except for the mild blood and gore, the climactic unveiling is painfully reminiscent of "Scooby Doo, Where Are You?," where the mystery villain in the disguise offers a bitter explanation of how it all went wrong before being carted off by cartoon police, leaving Scooby and Shaggy to grab an anchovy pizza after the mystery is solved. Wes Craven could have taken a lesson from pros like these.

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