In Scream 3, Wes Craven does everything you'd expect of the final instalment in a comedy-horror trilogy. In his new incarnation as the king of post-innocence, Craven gets his characters not only to tell you what to expect, but to complain about it just before it happens - so the heroine moans that horror flicks always feature "big- breasted girls running up the stairs instead of out the front door" and then she and her breasts bubble up the stairs. Having unpacked for us every cliche he propagated with Nightmare on Elm Street, Craven is now officially an intellectual. But when you're telling jokes about a franchise and your own joke becomes an even bigger franchise, you're less likely to be thought of as someone feverishly pacing the boundaries of post-modern, post-objective serialised formalisation. You're just rich.
Scream 3 follows a movie being made of the murders featured in the first film. So we have the original cast members (Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox Arquette, David Arquette) being played by actors (Emily Mortimer, Parker Posey, Matt Keesler), who are picked off and murdered, one by one. All the action takes place on a Hollywood set in which special effects cry all night. We know they're special effects because we're the "desensitised target audience" they were always talking about in Scream 2.
It's hard to imagine a director more narcissistic than Craven. Making three films devoted to taking the mickey out of the genre that made your name is pretty smug. Besides, we've seen it all before. Since the 1970s, few horror films have been made that haven't winked all over with you- know-what's-coming-nextness. An American Werewolf in London, for example, is a terrific combination of the explicit and implicit, of something self- knowing but not primarily self-referential. And, interestingly, more than the comedy, you remember the bit on the moor, when the creature comes closer (its noise flat and grim and regular) and Griffin Dunne says, "Sh- -, David. What is that?" There is nothing memorably frightening about Scream 3.
Craven has been camping it up for years. His most famous creation, Freddy Krueger, never stopped playing up to the audience in a wholly pantomimic way - pulling out telephone wires with a cackle and looking at knickers all the time.
Galaxy Quest is a sketch stretched to a film. But the idea is fun. The cast of a cult telly sci-fi show, pulled in 1982, now spend their days in costume signing autographs at weird conventions. James Nesmith (Tim Allen) Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver plus caramel wig and plunge bra, but still that drawn-on little mouth) and Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman) are a pretty wretched lot, and can't seem to find work elsewhere. Until they are approached by a race of aliens from the Klatu Nebula and coaxed into a real-life mission.
After 20 minutes, Galaxy Quest becomes heavy with earth-bound stodginess - abundant detail here, absolutely none there, ideas left dangling, the finale a maze of misconnections. …