The “Scream” franchise set the bar for intelligent modern horror, providing a blueprint for self-aware horror and the art of the trilogy.
For many fans, Randy Meek’s (Jamie Kennedy) death in Scream 2 left a huge void. So, to have five minutes of Randy on VHS in Scream 3 was pure jubilance. When it comes to the third installment, Randy’s last piece of wisdom from “Scary Movies 101” reveals a particular observation within the trilogy.
Randy leans into the camera.
“But here’s the critical thing. If you find yourself dealing with an unexpected backstory and a preponderance of exposition, then the sequel rules do not apply. Because you’re not dealing with the sequel. You are dealing with the concluding chapter of a trilogy. That’s right. It’s a rarity in the horror field but it does exist, and it is a force to be reckoned with. Because true trilogies are about going back to the beginning and discovering something that wasn’t true from the get-go.”
We present some notable characters, from the third films of popular horror franchises, that represent Randy’s Super Trilogy Rules.
“Rule One: You’ve got a killer who’s going to be superhuman.” – Victor Crowley
Shooting, hacking, and even R.A. Mihailoff wrestling with Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) could never kill the beast within the first two films of Adam Green’s beloved splattered franchise.
As Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) explains to Marybeth Dunston (Danielle Harris) in Hatchet II, “You can’t kill a ghost.” Zombie then guides Marybeth through the backstory of the Dunston and Crowley karmic connection.
In Hatchet III, it takes Marybeth handing Crowley his father’s ashes to dissolve their fathers’ generational curses as Victor melts into the closure of himself.
The spirit of Crowley remained absent until resurrected cleverly in the fourth installment, Victor Crowley. It isn’t violence that can kill off Crowley; in fact, that made him more superhuman. It was his soul’s need to end the pain and longing of justice.
“Rule Two: Anyone, including the main character, can die.” – Nancy Thompson
Our favorite heroine of dreams, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) returns as a therapist in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors to help young adults who are at the REM mercies of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a hell she knows all too well.
With the second Nightmare taking a different turn and only connecting us to Nancy’s journal entry of who Freddy was, there is a comfort in her return. If anyone could take on the bastard of nightmares and survive, it’s her. Unfortunately, Nancy dies, and Wes Craven reminds us that no one is invincible in Krueger’s world.
In the seventh installment, New Nightmare, Langenkamp appears as her own persona with a small trip as “Nancy” towards the end.
Dream Warriors also explores what makes Krueger the persistent antagonist and a child killer. We find out from Amanda (Nan Martin), Krueger’s mother and a nun, that Freddy was conceived from evil; she was the victim of a brutal rape at the hands of psychopaths inside an institution.
“Rule Three: The past will come back to bite you in the ass.” – Roman Bridger, Sidney and Maureen Prescott
Pulled back into the hell, and onto the set of “Stab 3”, the movie within a movie, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is back to solve the riddle of the newest Ghostface copycat.
You can see in Sidney’s emotions when she encounters her mother’s ghost, there is an unsettling connection, and inner knowing that this is far from over. That element proves to be true when Ghostface takes off his mask to reveal himself as Roman Bridger (Scott Foley), the director, and her stepbrother. Roman shares that Maureen Prescott (Lynn McRee) gave him up for adoption before coming back to Woodsboro as the defeated actress, Rina Reynolds.
Roman ultimately unveils to Sidney “something that wasn’t true.”
He was responsible for showing Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) the video of his father with Maureen outside a motel room. Roman explains how he “motivated and coached” Billy to orchestrate the murderous events and setups. What was once a Loomis vendetta is now closer to home for Sidney; a half-brother conceived from a sexual assault. When he discovers he is adopted and found Rina (Maureen), she rejects him and claims Sidney as her only child.
Roman’s pain becomes his mission to secure Stab 3 and entangle the real lives scarred by Woodsboro back to the beginning for the showdown.
Scream 3 does logically tie back to Billy and Stu (Matthew Lillard), while clarifying how Roman was involved in the background from the start.
In reviewing a list of horror franchises, I researched the third installments to see which films connected back to an element laid out in the first film of each series. Very few franchises demonstrate the mythology Randy suggests: “Godfather, Jedi…all revealed something that we thought was true that wasn’t true.”
The third film usually starts a new chapter, introduces new characters, and recycles themes from the first two films. Final Destination 3, Friday the 13th Part 3, I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, and — in a universe of its own — Halloween III, are all strong examples of that pattern.
Ehren Kruger took over as screenwriter for Scream 3 as Kevin Williamson was committed to another project at that time. Some Scream connoisseurs love Scream 3, while others loathe it. I do believe Randy’s trilogy rules bring an intelligence to horror mythology.
Trilogies like Ginger Snaps and Paranormal Activity may come close to Randy’s observations as they use the third installment to serve as a prequel for the first film.
What horror franchises do you feel are a rarity and fit the mold of Randy’s trilogy rules?