Can there be celluloid life for the “Scream” series after the dull second installment? Absolutely. Screenwriter Ehren Kruger picks up Kevin Williamson’s witty, horror deconstructing concept, and actually improves on it. How? To start with, this is the final chapter of a (potential ..if it stops here) trilogy and as Randy, the film nerd offed in “Scream 2,” tells us via video tape, “..all bets are off ..no rules apply …anyone can die, even the hero.” The film embraces that credo as Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber), the man who allegedly killed Sidney’s mom before the whole shebang started, is disemboweled in grisly fashion by the now notorious, Munch-masked psychopath.
The whole back story that we all have come to know in “Scream” and “Scream 2” turns out to be a giant dupe — and there in lies the film’s fun as you watch the it throw away what you know and credibly piece it back together, into a new mystery. Sidney (Neve Campbell, proving she’s ready to take over the tough grrl throne from Sigourney Wæver) is living in recluse and Hollywood’s shooting another installment of her life with the psycho — the film’s called “Stab 3.” Several of the parallel stars start to die — most funny is Jenny McCarthy playing the random, buxom babe victim a la Rose McGown or Drew Barrymore, except as she complains, “I’m a thirty-five-year-old playing a nineteen-year-old — and it’s back to director, Wes Craven’s comfortable old, slasher formula. Sidney hooks up with her acting double (Parker Posey), the now, less annoying, tabloid reporter, Gail Weathers (Courtney Cox) and her estranged boyfriend, Dewey Riley (Cox’s real-life boy, David Arquette). Add to the mix Carrie Fisher as a parody of herself and Silent Bob and Jay (of “Cerks” fame) and you have a pretty funny gore-fest that delivers the goods with a few new twists. Will there be a fourth “Scream?” If the third’s a box-office score, you can be sure the studio execs will scream for more.