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Believe it or not, I don’t like writing bad reviews much, but what can I say? Wes Craven’s Scream 3 is disappointing. Putting aside a certain character’s hair in the movie, let’s look at some problems it has, be they large or small.

Yes, Ghostface is back to kill again, which is to be expected. The usual question will emerge: Who is the killer? We’re also supposed to wonder about the motive. As these sequels pile up, those questions get harder to even ask, and suspension of disbelief becomes more of a looming presence. After all, just how many times can Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) be targeted as part of a mass murder campaign, by various assailants, all for related-yet-different reasons? Also, how many times can these plots still involve Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), and Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber)?

Unfortunately, Scream 3 doesn’t successfully address all of these concerns. Basically, I had a harder time suspending disbelief and just enjoying the movie. Granted, you can tell they tried to make it work, but it was becoming a tired formula by this point.

The simple reality is, ideas tend to get old after a while. For example, back when Squeaky Fromme attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford, it was probably more shocking in 1975. Nowadays, though, people are so jaded by shootings that they almost shrug them off at this point. At a certain point, it’s almost unfair to expect people to stay in perpetual shock over tragedies. A similar dynamic holds true for this movie.

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Ghostface

Like all Scream movies, part 3 has to reveal Ghostface, then “expose him” at some point. Yes, he introduces himself in an interesting way, as we see he can alter his voice to seemingly match any character he wants. That is sort of a cool ability. However, it’s truly one of the few elements to the mystery that kept my attention. Other than that, the characters seem oddly almost disinterested in the events surrounding them. Could it be they’re written to be too far in on the joke?

Self-Awareness Stretching Thin?

Wes Craven’s original Scream helped rejuvenate modern horror, partly by giving us the self-aware horror movie. While it was never my favorite franchise, I can respect damn near anything for being influential. Also innovative: Ghostface almost has this vibe of the “Anti-Hero” of slasher villains. There’s something “underdog-like” about him, and at no point will the average viewer see him as a near-invincible killer like Freddy, Jason or Michael Myers. It makes the movie seem more real, and we may even identify with the killer more (as freaky as that sounds).

Scream also made fun of itself. The other characters are almost self-aware “stock” characters. For example, Dewey Riley seems like a bit of an everyman, and an underachieving cop. while Gale Weathers is the self-serving, roving reporter. All of the other characters are there to supplement what kids now call “tropes,” and we recover from these elements understanding this idea was somewhat innovative at the time. We are also in on the joke. That can work once, maybe twice, but it can easily be stretched thin as a concept. Scream 3 just seems like a movie that didn’t need to happen. It has nothing new to say.

More Reasons it Falls Short

Sid walks into the movie at various points, characters angrily confront somebody, they fight Ghostface, and that about sums up the whole affair. Like in the original Scream, there are sordid details about Sidney’s mother and father, and, again, we’re supposed to believe that this would result in numerous murder rampages. Unlike, say, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, where the killer emerges from a nightmare world into reality, Ghostface somehow keeps emerging from long-buried sexual dalliances, to oddly hold people accountable for them who really were not involved. That becomes a very odd pattern, especially if you really try to piece it together.

However, if you don’t even care about the truth behind the murders, Scream 3 has basically failed to do its job. That would describe my experience with this movie. It was not more disturbing than the original two, nor more fun. In fact, there’s another odd factor here which takes away the suspense: There’s never a sense that Sidney can’t solve the mystery and crimes in time to save her life. There’s little tension.

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I Don’t Remember Any of the Kills

Here’s the critique that’ll really hurt overall fans of the Scream franchise. I don’t remember any kills from Scream 3 very well, and I just watched it. That’s unfortunate because let’s face it: That’s one of the few elements that might have helped saved the movie. I’m a bit puzzled as to why there aren’t more creative, messed up kills here.

For example, how about someone gets her eyes ripped out and stuffed in her bra? It’s a terrible, shocking idea, and the suggestion might’ve resulted in protesters at screenings…but would it have been a memorable scene? Yes! I feel messed up for suggesting it, but scenes like those are what put Giallo movies on the map. Some of those movies are genuinely on the shitty side, but we remember them because of their creepy, innovative, outright offensive and outlandish kills.

My Theory On Why Scream 3 Falls Short

I could take heat for suggesting this, but I think Wes Craven wasn’t so much about shocks anymore near the end of his life. In fact, there’s a sense he might’ve been bored with the horror genre, like he may have felt confined to it. I can understand that. Sure, I think it’s fun to see an obnoxious character’s hand in a blender or have them get mauled by a mountain lion, or what have you, but I don’t watch horror exclusively, either. If your heart’s just not in it, it’ll probably be reflected in the movie.

Maybe I shouldn’t say the movie is a failure, but it falls a little short. In terms of its action, an element I like is the “hunter becomes the hunted” dynamic, where Sidney is basically running after Ghostface at times. Still, that’s not a unique “survivor girl” fare. The only other element that’s striking is when characters stumble upon a secret door, which makes it so much more “Scooby-Doo” (though no one in Scooby-Doo was ever dismembered, or even drenched in blood).

Beyond that, most of “Scream 3” is about Sidney Prescott being oddly attached to her mother’s (real or imagined) shortcomings. In the movie, she even works as a crisis worker, talking people out of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. That was sort of a nice angle. However, it also wasn’t enough to sustain my interest in this movie. Why did I write so much about it then? Because Wes Craven was so good that even his lesser movies tend to make me think.

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What are your thoughts on Scream 3? Am I being too brutal on it? Scream at me in the comments!

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Nicole Luttrell

    July 15, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    You are not wrong! The only good part was the first ten minutes, because Liev Shriber was in it. After that you can turn the movie off.

    • Wade Wainio

      July 15, 2020 at 12:12 pm

      Like I said, they could’ve at least partly salvaged it with interesting, shocking kills. I even watched a video of all the kills to make sure I wasn’t missing something…turns out I was right to say they weren’t interesting, either.

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Movies n TV

The Boys, Beware the Jabberwock, My Son

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We’ve reached episode five of The Boys. And after the last episode’s emotional bombshells, this one had some much-needed levity.

And then a whole bunch more emotional trauma.

The story

We begin this episode with Homelander and Ryan in a meeting regarding a new teenage show. But Ryan doesn’t want to be on a show. He wants to be an actual hero. He wants to do real good and help people. And Homelander, fresh from his therapeutic killing spree, is in a mood to support his son.

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Antony Starr and Cameron Crovetti in The Boys.

For now.

Meanwhile, The Boys are searching for a virus that can kill sups. The last time we saw this virus, it was in the hands of Neuman. They borrow Stan Edgar from jail and go to the lovely family farm upstate.

There, they discover that Neuman’s been testing temp V on farm animals. And it works as well on them as it does on hamsters. Soon the boys find themselves batting killer sheep, chickens and bulls. Hilarity and blood ensues.

What worked

The first thing we have to talk about is the superpowered animals. This was such a fantastic, hilarious situation. I especially loved the flying homicidal sheep. They were hilarious, unexpected, and incredibly gory. One just doesn’t expect to see a sheep covered in blood and guts. But it was delightful.

Karl Urban in The Boys.

The main pull of this episode, though, is the evolving relationship between Homelander and Ryan.

Homelander realizes that he doesn’t want Ryan to be brought up the same way he was. He wants his son to be happy.

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He isn’t trying to be a better person though, and I think that’s important to remember. He loves his son, and he wants his son to be happy. And if being an actual hero and actually helping people will make Ryan happy right now, then that’s what Homelander is going to do.

Except that, since he doesn’t care about people, he is really bad at being a good person. Which is what led to a director getting beaten to death by his assistant.

I’m not saying this beatdown wasn’t cathartic. I’m just saying that it was maybe not something a good person would endorse.

I honestly think this new desire to be an actual hero is going to make Homelander more dangerous. If such a thing is possible.

What didn’t work

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Of course, this episode wasn’t perfect. It brought to light a weakness that’s been irritating me this whole season. And that is the storyline with Hugh Senior.

What are we doing here?

While Hughie’s dad’s health issues are sad, and the sudden reintroduction of his mother is interesting, it has nothing to do with the rest of the season. Every other storyline blends and ties together. You can’t pull one string without all of them coming unraveled.

But not this story. So far, this storyline could be removed entirely and the whole rest of the season would remain pristine. All this storyline seems to have done is to have popped our main character out of the main storyline altogether.

Hughie’s absence is a deficit. I would have loved to see him freak out over the killer chickens. But I also would have liked to see him work with Neuman. I would have liked him to be there to defend Butcher. I would have liked to see him interacting with any other characters at all.

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At this point, no character is purely good or purely bad. And I think that’s important. I’m invested in the story of every single character. And with three episodes left in the season, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing you can get my short story, Man In The Woods, on Smashwords and Amazon.

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Movies n TV

The Boys, Wisdom of the Ages

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Episode four of The Boys was possibly the darkest episode of the series so far. And I am aware that this alone is an intimidating prospect.

It should be.

The story

Our story in this episode mainly consists of the single most dickish action I have ever seen anyone perform. Sage and Firecracker set up a four-hour show outside Starlight House, to talk about how horrible of a person Annie is.

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Four hours.

Valorie Curry and Susan Heyward in The Boys.

Annie gets everyone out of the building safely but then decides to watch the entire Anti-Annie show. And it is horrific.

The real horror show of this episode, though, is Homelander’s little adventure. After a fight with Ryan, he’s decided to visit his childhood home. Or, at least the place in which he grew up. Because he was raised more like a science experiment than a child.

I don’t think we’ve seen so far exactly what Homelander went through. The horrors he faced as a small child. Things no one should ever have to experience.

Things that the rest of his world will now have to pay for.

What worked

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If you’re paying attention to politics, this episode got way too real. The absolute hypocrisy of our current political situation was on display with superpowers. I especially liked (and by that I mean was enraged by) Firecracker saying that accidentally blinding someone at age thirteen was worse than being an adult and assaulting a minor. Those two things are not the same, and one of them is obviously worse.

Another thing that I appreciated in this episode was the new, and horrific, information we got about Homelander’s childhood.

Do I maybe feel bad for Homelander now? After seeing the dismal and dark little world he was raised in, yeah, I do. That is a monstrous way to treat a child. It’s no wonder he ended up how he is. Even the milk fetish makes more sense. And I am not any more cajoled by the fact that these people were just doing their jobs than Homelander was. That has never been an honest or adequate justification.

This, of course, doesn’t justify the horrors he’s inflicted. It just makes it easier to see how he got to where he is.

Antony Starr in The Boys.

The best fiction inspires strong emotions. It makes us feel things for people who are not real and feel passionate about events that did not happen. It does this by showing us glimmers of real people and real events within these bags of bones and false narratives. And it is because of this that The Boys is succeeding. It’s taking very real moments we are all living through, and embedding them into a fictional narrative. And that’s always going to be more impactful than just burning someone alive.

What didn’t work

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I only had one complaint about this episode. But it did bother me.

When Firecracker’s show starts, Annie makes a point of getting all the kids out of Starlight House to safety. That’s good. But then she sits down with her friends to watch the show.

Why would you watch a four-hour-long live show about why you are a terrible person?

I get asking someone else to watch it and take notes, because in a position like that you need to know what the opposition is saying about you. But for Annie to just watch that unfiltered was asking for trouble. And it’s exactly the sort of trouble that Annie ended up in.

In conclusion, this episode was almost too real. It had my blood boiling. It had me yelling at the TV. And that’s exactly what I want a good story to do.

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We’re halfway through the season now, and I think we’d all better buckle up for what’s coming.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing you can get my short story, Man In The Woods, on Smashwords and Amazon.

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Movies n TV

House of Dragon: S2E3 – Family Feud for Dummies

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In this great episode, we see something we have yet to see in any of the GoT/HoD shows–a dysfunctional family. Wait. I meant, SSDD.

We start out with two people fighting. Why? Why not. I guess they have a blood feud for ages. I mean AGGGGGESSSSSSS. So, of course, we don’t know anything about them what-so-fuck-ever.

Basically, the scene is two girls slapping each other and then one gets an arrow to the knee. The end.

Dead hookers, Kings Hand, and a War Plan

Next up, we have two dead twins, but enough about my sex life. In the show, there are two dead uhhh twins (note to self: deeper holes for twins). Alas poor ermrmm….let’s call them the Ging Twins. We hardly knew. ye.

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Ohhhhh I love this part where a knight that’s fucking the queen and got Poor Sir Ging killed is being late to his first day of class. Naughty Naughty. The rest of the scene is like ‘oh new peeps in white, something something, King is Big Warrior!’. So, this is what it would be like if Joffrey got laid? Hmmmmm….

Daemon arrives at Harrenhal–buyers remorse incoming

Daemon apparently wanted to take over something so he took over a shit hole. It’s almost suspenseful. Almost. I think it would be better to have drug the scene out more to give a sense of how Daemon was thinking about taking this big stronghold but slowly finding out it’s just a ghetto of shit.

For all the grief I give HoD for rehashing old tropes/plots from GoT, this is the one connection that makes sense so far. I like the exploration of a place we hear about in GoT but never got to see much into it. The connection is a way of doing exposition for a series we cared about. This is the first time it really feels like a prequel and not just a stand alone ‘shit pile’ they put the skin of GoT on.

We also get to see something of a character development for Daemon. This is something I really. hope others get a chance to get–characters. Maybe this is just the actor putting everything on his timey-wimey shoulders. Maybe that’s what the real turn for the character is–Matt Smith just going ‘fuck it’ and hitting for the fences.

Rhaenyra’s Diplomatic Mission, Some Politics, and Ser Cole Gets Jiggy Wit It

So like even though you fucked my dad and like made sure I wasn’t queen and then like started a war and like your bastards killed my son and like, you know, maybe we can be friends and end this war?

I heard this part of the scene was ad-lib. The writers had just this for direction: Think of the stupidest thing you can think of for your character to say and just go with it! Oh, and if you can tie in a previous episode of a better show into it–even better!

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While that happens, political people are like ‘lets use a dragon. The show is called house of dragon, not house of weird random call backs to the future happenings of GoT’. Speaking of GoT, remember when the small council meetings were interesting? Like you wanted to know the twists and turns of it? You know why those were better? Because you gave a shit about the characters who made up the council. Even when the Queen remakes her council after her dad’s death, we still cared. We didn’t know them as well, but we cared because we knew the people they replaced were better for the job. So we had an interest in ‘how doth they fucketh this up’.

Here is more like…well, put it this way. Take pictures of the people on both councils. Then cut them into single head shots. Now, shuffle. Can you name the person? Hell, can you even name which side that person is on? That’s my point.

Oh and Cole goes off with the queen’s brother to attack something. A dragon happens. They go awwwhwhwhwhwhwhw!! Then run away like little girls.

Change your whores more than you change your undies

So pirate eye blondie is caught by king blondie using the same whore as he did before. Guess this is what rich kids count as shame.

Oh and surprise to nobody–the Queen admits that maybe Rhaenyra should have been ruler, but shit happens so it’s like too far gone stop now. Let’s have everyone kill each other and that way the gods will decide who the king really meant to give the throne to when he said, ‘I want my daughter Rhaenyra to be ruler’.

Final Comments and rating

It’s starting to pick up, but it seems that every time that it does pick up the writers go ‘fuck it’ and swerve directly into the ditch.

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I don’t think the lack of action is a problem in this series. I think taking things slower in places and cutting down the cast to a manageable number (or at least give them a different look/name type so we can tell them apart) might be the thing needed to bring this show into a better footing. Will it ever be GoT? No. Sadly, I think it’s trying so hard to connect to GoT plots that it waters itself down. Instead of giving us a fascinating look at an older time, we get a constant reminder of just how much we miss GoT. 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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