• Scream 3 received a “Rotten” score on Rotten Tomatoes and is the lowest-rated movie in the franchise, criticized for relying on clichés and reused horror tropes.
  • The Scream franchise has seen a revival, with Scream 5 and 6 receiving positive scores, while Scream 3 scored poorly. The latest installment, Scream 6, broke franchise records at the box office.
  • Despite its low rating, Scream 3 may be more appreciated in retrospect, as it featured comedic elements and introduced fun dynamics through new characters like Jennifer Jolie. Additionally, it works better as the end of the original trilogy now that other sequels have been released.

Out of the entire Scream franchise, 2000’s Scream 3 is the only installment with a “Rotten” score on Rotten Tomatoes, and for very interesting reasons. Scream 3 served as the final installment in Wes Craven’s original trilogy and was meant to be the end of the franchise before the series was revived 11 years later with Scream 4. Over two decades after the initial planned ending for Sidney Prescott, Dewey Riley, and Gale Weathers, the slasher franchise has become more popular than ever. Not only is Scream in the midst of a modern reboot trilogy, but the latest installment, Scream 6, broke franchise records at the domestic box office.

Scream 5 effectively passed the torch to a new generation led by the core four, sisters Sam and Tara Carpenter, as well as twins Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin. Ghostface has remained the antagonistic killer throughout the sequels, but the most recent cast has clearly found the support of viewers based on steady Rotten Tomatoes scores. The critic scores of the first two Scream movies were in the low 80s. Scream 4 got the series back on track with a 60% before Scream 5 and 6 both scored 76%, the latter even receiving a franchise-best 91% audience score. Scream 3, however, was a low point, coming in at a “Rotten” 41%.

Related: Scream 7 Will Bring Back A Classic Wes Craven Element Forgotten By The First Two Reboot Sequels

Scream 3 Was Criticized For Relying Too Much On Clichés & Reused Horror Tropes

Scream 2 took the risk of following Sidney at college with a new set of supporting cast members, but the incorporation of Dewey and Gale helped anchor the sequel in the new setting. Scream 3 was more ambitious, taking the Ghostface conflict to Hollywood while Sidney was in isolation. Dewey and Gale returned, but much of the focus was spread out between the meta Stab cast and how they became involved in the latest massacre. Scream 3‘s poor reviews stemmed from a consensus that the plot was convoluted while relying too heavily on typical horror clichés.

There was also a common belief that Craven’s third Scream movie didn’t do enough to set itself apart from other horror movies, and instead, it reused traditional horror tropes. For example, revealing Roman Bridger as Ghostface was a major twist, but the fact that he was Sidney’s long-long half-brother felt a bit underwhelming. When Scream 4 came around, there was commentary on meta-awareness and technology. Then Scream 5 took on the topic of “requels” and toxic fandoms, while Scream 6 presented commentary on familial drama and franchises. Scream 3 fell into a formula created by the first two movies without effectively embracing the trilogy concept.

Is Scream 3 Really The Worst Movie In The Franchise?

Jennifer and Gale looking worried in Scream 3

Interestingly, in the 23 years since Scream 3 released, the sequel has received more love, with many retrospectively questioning if it really is the worst movie in the franchise. While critic and audience score data does support that Scream 3 is technically the worst, it’s also possible to think that there aren’t truly any bad movies in the Scream franchise. In the new era, Craven has been praised for the wittiness interweaved within Scream 3, specifically through characters like Parker Posey’s Jennifer Jolie. Though the large suspect list causing another whodunit case for Dewey and Gale also felt repetitive, throwing Jennifer into the mix made for a fun dynamic.

Some of those more comedic elements that became prevalent in Scream 3 carried into Scream 4, the installment that ultimately reinvented the series before Scream 5 did so again in 2022. Looking back, Scream 3 might work better as an end of the original trilogy now that other sequels in the series have released. It’s easier to accept the toned-down kills and Ghostface reveal, knowing what happens a few decades down the line. Even if Scream 3 remains the worst-rated movie in the franchise’s history, it likely deserves more credit than it initially received, especially since it features the series’ most memorable hairstyle thanks to Courteney Cox’s iconic short bangs.

Source: Rotten Tomatoes

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