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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Did Angelina deliberately go after Milton for a Casting Couch ploy, or did he bring it up and coerce her into it? Milton's past history feels potentially significant when considering this, as does how Angelina refers to him as a "pig" during that reveal.
    • Is Stone mean to Dewey due to seeing him as less skilled, or does he feel that Dewey is more competent than him, thus making Stone jealous and insecure?
  • Ass Pull:
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    • The film's focus on horror trilogies is sometimes regarded as one, since horror trilogies, unlike horror sequels, are not a particularly popular trend. In fact, Randy's examples of trilogies are The Godfather and Star Wars, both of which are decidedly not in the horror genre. That said, Scream 3 is closer to the idea of the supposed horror finale, like Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.
    • The voice changer in this film allows Ghostface to perfectly mimic anyone's voice. Not only does this break Willing Suspension of Disbelief in a series that is grounded in realism, said voice changer is far too convenient for Ghostface's uses — the killer is able to perfectly mimic the voice of Sidney’s dead mother to frighten her, and the voice of Sidney herself to lure the other characters to Milton's house for the finale.
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    • The killer's familial connection to Sidney and involvement in Maureen Prescott's murder is another one, considering that the first film never hinted at any of the aforementioned. Of course, this is all acknowledged by Randy as part of the trilogy rules, but it still is rather contrived.
    • Roman faking his own death is a notorious example. The act itself isn't too bad, but Gale checks Roman's body and feels no pulse, which leads her, along with the audience, to conclude that Roman is dead. As noted by Wes Craven, there are techniques to stop one's pulse without dying, but it was never mentioned in the film that Roman knew any of those techniques.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Tyson, Sarah and Tom. Some fans rate them as the least interesting or likable characters of the movie, while others find them somewhat likable and with hints of more personality that aren't allowed to develop.
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  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Jay and Silent Bob have a cameo as Gale is storming off the Stab 3 set. Hilarious, yes, but still random and out of place.
  • Broken Base:
    • Fans are often conflicted over Roman's involvement in Maureen Prescott's murder. Some believe it helps flesh out the backstory of the films, while others believe it is a retcon that weakens the first movie and the motives of its killers.
    • Likewise, Roman's relation to Sidney can come off as a rather cliche and disappointing retcon for certain fans. This may not be surprising when considering that said retcon may have been inspired by an identical one from Halloween II, which had similarly conflicted reactions.
  • Catharsis Factor: Roman's death, 'nuff said.
  • Complete Monster: This film's Ghostface, Roman Bridger, is supremely henious in both the final cut and Ehren Kruger's original script.
    • Final Version: Roman Bridger, Sidney's half-brother, born of Maureen Prescott being raped during her Hollywood career, is revealed as the instigator of the entire series. Roman decries his birth mother as a whore and stalks her extramarital liaisons in Woodboro, using the evidence to mastermind the original killing spree in the first movie, killing Maureen and his own friends, and letting the original Ghostface take the fall. Roman grows jealous of Sidney's fame as a survivor and sets out to frame her for his own kills. Roman disguises himself as a low-budget movie director and kills off the Stab 3 movie's crew while tormenting Sidney with mind games of her traumatic past. Roman claims to be a tragic victim who is lashing out at the world, but Sidney points out that he's self-deluding and simply enjoys killing people, prompting him to fly into a rage. His sole attempt to connect with Sidney during his death is subverted when seconds later he gets up to try to kill them all again.
    • Original Script: Roman Bridger is even more sadistic and sociopathic in this Darker and Edgier version of the final product. When rejected by his mother, Maureen Prescott, Roman manipulated Billy Loomis into perpetrating the original Woodsboro killings that resulted in the murder of his own mother, seeing Billy as an "amateur" who laid the groundwork for him. Using his own submissive girlfriend, Angelina Tyler, to satisfy his incestuous lust for his half-sister, Roman and Angelina start killing the actors of Stab 3, with Roman gutting a woman "from neck to groin" and showing the mutilated corpse to her boyfriend before killing him as well. With the Los Angeles case gaining more attention with each murder, Roman not only murders a police detective, but also slashes the throat of his own father and then disembowels him for shock value. Wanting to mutilate his own half-sister before framing her for his killing spree, Roman relishes in his status as the villain of Sidney's life.
  • Critical Backlash: Some fans don't find the film to be as bad as it usually gets painted as. While still regarded as the weakest in the franchise, some find it to still be a solid enough film.
  • Ending Aversion: The last twenty-five minutes or so of the movie might be the least liked part of it, due to the reveal of Ghostface's identity, backstory and motives, as well as arguably too many deaths in too short a time.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Jennifer Jolie is agreed to be one of the best things about the movie, thanks to Parker Posey's fun performance and comedic chemistry with Gale.
  • Evil Is Sexy: The Tall, Dark, and Handsome Roman Bridger as the killer.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Jennifer can inspire this for just seeming to have two, potentially survivable stab wounds nowhere near the heart (as well as seeming to be letting out a scream while being thrown through the mirror, which could have just knocked her unconscious, and Ghostface having to hurry away due to Dewey's shooting and perhaps not having the time to make sure of his kill.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Gale and Dewey apparently tried to live together in Woodsboro but Gale couldn't handle it and called it quits. Although they make another try for it, by the fourth film the same thing has happened to Gale again. Doubly so with the foreknowledge that the actors would eventually split up too.
    • Finding out Maureen Prescott was a victim of systematic gang-rape by the Hollywood elite becomes extra skin-crawling after Harvey Weinstein (who produced all the Scream films) was ousted from his own company thanks to a mountain of sexual harassment suits. It also doesn't help that in the film, Bianca Burnette (Carrie Fisher) says that she lost out on the part of Princess Leia because she wouldn't sleep with George Lucas. And Angelina is revealed to have slept with the director to get the part.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Parker Posey's character is named Jennifer Jolie. This movie was made five years before the beginning of the whole "Brangelina" saga.note  And Jennifer Aniston co-starred on Friends with Courteney Cox, who plays Gale in all four movies. Eerie. Oh, and in the same movie, there's also a character named Angelina. Even better, Gale tells her she's sorry things didn't work out with Brad Pitt.
    • Gale Weathers mentions a past failed relationship of her actress Jennifer Jolie with Brad Pitt. Jennifer Jolie is named after Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie who both become ex-wives of Brad Pitt.
    • In light of the fourth film, many events and scenes in the third become this. The plot of Stab 3 is about the main characters returning to Woodsboro... which is the exact plot of Scream 4. Just before her death, Sarah complains to (who she thinks is) the director about how the script is constantly being rewritten... and production on Scream 4 saw several rewrites to the script. One of the characters in Stab 3 is a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Randy, who was killed off in the second film (in both the Scream and Stab universes)... and in Scream 4, the character of Robbie serves the exact same purpose as the film's replacement Meta Guy, complete with a name similar to Randy's. Honestly, it's a miracle that none of the cast got killed during production.
    • Jenny McCarthy stars in this a few years before starring in Scary Movie 3, the first film in that series to not parody the Scream films. In this, her character complains about being too old to play a 21-year-old — and she plays a teenager in Scary Movie 3. She also complains about having to die naked in the shower, when in Scary Movie 3 she dies in the bath.
    • In early drafts, the killer was going to be Angelina, the new Sidney wannabe. Again, this is oddly prophetic of Scream 4, where the killer is Sidney's cousin Jill, who wanted to get famous by playing the Final Girl image to the public.
    • Stone mentions having been a bodyguard for Julia Roberts and is later murdered by Ghostface. Julia's niece, Emma Roberts, plays Jill, one of the killers in the fourth movie.
    • Cotton complains that "I'm risking my reputation as the host of this country's number one nationally syndicated talk show to do a cameo is some cheap slasher pic." Flash forward to 2006 where Dr. Phil is making a cameo in Scary Movie 4.
    • During their Snark-to-Snark Combat, Jennifer tells Gale that she's not going to win any awards for playing her. Parker Posey did receive an award nomination for playing Jennifer but didn't win it.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Parker Posey's comedic performance as Jennifer is a big draw for people not expecting to enjoy the movie as a whole.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
  • Narm:
    • While The Reveal that Roman is the killer can be surprising to the audience, the impact is lessened when you realize Sidney never met the guy once prior to this scene and probably doesn't even know who he is.
    • While running from the killer, Angelina takes the time to freak out and reveal she got her part via the Casting Couch. Not only does Emily Mortimer deliver it in the most ridiculously hammy way possible, the film then takes the opportunity to deploy one of the fastest-acting cases of Death by Sex in the slasher genre.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Kincaid's partner, Detective Wallace, is easily one of the more entertaining characters in the film, but gets less screen time than most of the others.
      "This is the scene where you come with us..."
    • Carrie Fisher has a small role as a receptionist who was The Other Marty for Princess Leia. She too gets some fun lines and is quite memorable.
    • Jenny McCarthy has two scenes, but she is also very memorable, confusing Psycho with Vertigo and hamming it up ridiculously when she's doing her line reading on the phone.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: Many blame the lesser quality on Ehren Kruger replacing Kevin Williamson.
  • Sequelitis: Widely considered a step down from the first two, in particular for being less of a Deconstructive Parody and more of a straightforward slasher. Some have even described Scream 3 as the type of horror movie that the original Scream mocked.
  • Shocking Swerve: While there is Foreshadowing regarding the killer's true identity as Sidney's half-sibling, there is no such foreshadowing regarding who that half-sibling was, meaning that anyone could have been the killer and that the red herrings were rather unnecessary. Unlike the other Scream films, it is generally considered impossible to logically deduce who the killer was in Scream 3.
  • Signature Scene: The suspenseful, quick-paced chase scene throughout Milton's mansion is pretty well-regarded (save for Jennifer's fate at the end of it) and features Ghostface at the pinnacle of his lethality.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Jennifer who adds a lot to the story (and could have added some life to the remainder of the film, and even the following movie), and gets a prolonged Hope Spot. Her death wasn't even necessary for pacing since two other characters had been killed within the last three minutes. note 
    • Angelina and her Casting Couch backstory could have been played more seriously for some social impact rather than used as a throwaway joke.
    • John Milton is considered as being a fairly one-dimensional, Horrible Hollywood character, when, being played by Lance Henriksen, he could have been more of a menacing and/or over the top slimy character.
    • Randy's sister Martha, who only shows up long enough to drop off Randy's posthumous videotape.
  • Too Cool to Live: Returning survivor Cotton and charismatic, Do Not Go Gentle newcomer Jennifer.
  • Unexpected Character: Jay and Silent Bob appear in this movie to expected surprise.
  • Values Resonance: And Values Dissonance. The film's portrayal of Horrible Hollywood and the manner in which actresses are mistreated can swing in either direction depending on which character it's focusing on. On one hand, Maureen Prescott's backstory, in which she had been raped by a Hollywood producer as she tried to get her foot in the door, rings far more relevant in light of powerful producers like Harvey Weinstein being exposed as serial rapists who exploited the Casting Couch for sex and power. On the other hand, Angelina's characterization as somebody who eagerly slept with the producer herself to get famous can come across as far more questionable today, for the same reason. Nowadays, the power dynamics surrounding the casting couch and sexual abuse in Hollywood are far better understood than they were in 2000.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: Gale's hair, specifically the bangs. One gets the impression she singed the front of her hair and just had to cut the burnt bits off. According to David Arquette, it was his fault; he suggested it as a Bettie Page look, but they cut Courteney Cox's bangs way too short.

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