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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while there's less extreme bloodshed here than in the other Scream features, stabbings and throat-slittings are still abundant, matched with (sometimes exceeded by) the swearing. The movie industry is described as an environment where vapid starlets boost their careers by having sex with influential men. There are ghoulish and defamatory references to the imperiled heroine's late mother throughout, and toward the end the idea of parental rejection comes to the fore as a motive for mass-murder.
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What's the story?
In the last semi-sendup of slasher films, Scream 2, we learned of a hit horror film-within-the-film called Stab inspired by the killings in Scream. That detail dominates SCREAM 3, centered around the studio making Stab 3, third of the true-crime perils of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), who by now has suffered so many attacks from masked marauders that she lives in behind security locks and alarm systems, and works anonymously at home on a violence-counseling hotline. Suddenly, knife murders by a new killer wearing the familiar robe strike Los Angeles, causing police to shut down the "Stab 3" set. Sidney, meanwhile, is tormented by dreams about her mother (whose offscreen rape-murder years before set in motion all the Scream atrocities in the first place). She emerges from hiding to help hunt for the latest slasher who's obsessed with her.
Is it any good?
The third in the series is watchable and entertaining -- if you can take the blood, swearing and cynicism -- but shows signs of stretching characters and gimmicks a little too far. When you've been Screaming over three movies, it's not surprising that the voice starts to get hoarse. Two new characters (Emily Mortimer, Parker Posey) are self-centered actors who'll do anything to make it big, giving director Wes Craven the chance to skewer the movie industry. Roger Corman and Carrie Fisher provide campy cameos. The whodunit narrative is unwieldy this time, but to the film's credit, you don't need to see the first two to enjoy this one.
Late in the movie the thrill-ride takes on a disturbing dimension with ideas of parental neglect and dysfunctional relationships that give birth to monsters, falling in line with Craven's other horror films in which young people discover horrible things connected to their parents. There's also a suggestion at the end that the Scream storyline represents a maturation arc for Sidney, who learns to get over her fears about the past and embrace the present.
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