When Sidney shows up at a police station in L.A. after the new Ghostface makes his first move, the background music is surprisingly whimsical, like something out of “E.T.” You’d think her appearance would be accompanied by ominous music, as we know she’s now in just as much danger as the rest of the cast. The fact that this moment instead plays as happy indicates exactly how different this film is from the first two, and why: this is not a movie about Sidney being hunted down against her will, but about Sidney making an active choice to help hunt down the killer herself.
Part of why “Scream 3” isn’t as scary as the first two is because, by this point, Sidney’s almost as much of a threat to the killer as he is to her. She’s learned every lesson there is to learn from the first two movies, so by the time she’s forced to rescue Dewey and Gale on her own, she can handle herself just fine. Like the killer, Sidney has the foresight to wear a bulletproof vest. Unlike the killer, she’s smart enough to bring a second gun with her, giving Ghostface a false sense of security when his metal detector picks up the first one.
The most obvious example of Sidney’s growth, of course, is her final battle with the killer. Throughout this whole confrontation, Sidney’s consistently angry and calculating, not scared, and she holds her own absurdly well compared to anyone else in this series. Maybe the best moment is when she coldly cuts through all of Roman’s excuses, telling him to “take some f***ing responsibility” before the argument descends into an all-out brawl, one in which Sidney certainly holds her own.