Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) used to be a wanted man, and now he's still pursued - for guest appearances and his syndicated chat show, that is. Yes, life has been good for him since his initially unwanted fame, and he lives in Los Angeles where tonight he's stuck in a traffic jam when he receives a phone call. He's already on the phone and this sounds like a wrong number, but the girl on the line recognises him and begins to chat him up; flattered, Cotton engages in conversation until the caller asks him what his girlfriend would think - because the call is coming from inside Cotton's house...
Cotton didn't last long in this, the third in the Scream series, and the first not to be scripted by Kevin Williamson; he had written a script, but it wasn't used as the production became infamous for being stuck in rewrite hell for much of the time, all because they were so paranoid about anybody working out who the killer was this time before the film was released. With three endings shot, you could acknowledge that they used the right one as unlike the previous instalment, the culprit was far harder to guess, but also unlike that sequel, a fatigue had started to set in.
Director Wes Craven offered his customary gloss and style to the proceedings, but the whole affair looked to have been more made for the sake of its monetary gains than anyone thinking, you know what would really fulfill me artistically? Another Scream sequel! Although there were halfhearted motions towards bringing up the same postmodern concerns as before, with Jamie Kennedy showing up once more to offer his rules, little of it seemed inspired, and if it had not been for the lavish budget - this was as handsome a production as the others had been - really it could have been any of the Scream cash-ins you were watching as far as its accomplishments went.
Part of the problem was that the series' heroine, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), was barely at the centre of the plot at all, having exiled herself to the countryside to escape the publicity, and it's implied the somewhat inevitable remergence of the killer. This meant that most of the film was taken up with smug lampoons of modern Hollywood, where the third movie in the Stab series, which was based on the killings of the first Scream, is being shot. Much is made of the regulars meeting their acting counterparts, with Courteney Cox enjoying some repartee with Parker Posey, exacerbated by Posey's star Jennifer being the new girlfriend of Dewey (David Arquette).
So now we had in-jokes instead of genre references to contend with, and while the cast was game the impression was more of a veteran rock band getting back together for one last tour, only with someone different on bass and keyboards. The fact that the first two movies referenced other works was clever: here the characters reference the last two movies almost exclusively, and that sense of wittily commenting on the style of these horrors was long gone. Still, Craven conjured the odd setpiece that illustrated he could still come up with the goods when pushed by mediocre material, but the whole voice changer device used by the killer, where they could speak in any tones they chose, was like something out of a science fiction movie and indicative of the gimmickry on display in Ehren Kruger's script. The fans might have been happy to see this, but everyone else would simply shrug. Music by Marco Beltrami.