This is a tale of three people: “He”, “She”, and “It”. The man known as “It”, is a doctor who is traveling to visit a patient…or so he thinks. But when he has to stop on a back-road, because a car is blocking his path, he is rendered unconscious and abducted. This man will soon discover that another man known as “He” has lured him out in order to capture and take him away to an unknown location. His intention? Getting “It” to confess, on camera, to the rape of a woman known as “She”, so that the authorities will have “proof” and justice may finally be served. Of course “He” may inflict a little “private justice” of his own upon the man, as he tries to obtain a confession from him.
Lou Simon directed this rape revenge tale from a script she also wrote. Unfortunately, 3 is a story that seems to be lacking in character and plot development. Of course development becomes problematic when the film only has a run time of 80 minutes, minus the credits. From the beginning there is only a vague idea of what has transpired, in relation to the rape and the relationship between the two main characters. We are made aware that they know each other because they see the same shrink (possibly in some sort of group therapy?). They aren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, nor are they lovers, they’re merely casually acquainted so far as I can tell. Yet despite such a tenuous bond, this man feels it is his chivalric duty to avenge this woman. The film also lacks any palpable tension, suspense or horrific elements. And even though it serves up a couple of plot twists late in the film, they failed to shock or surprise me. And for a film that sells itself on the notion that the alleged rapist will be tortured in order to elicit a confession, it’s very light on the torture aspect and heavy on interrogation and badgering. Granted I wasn’t expecting it to be torture porn, but it could have been somewhat more striking and visceral than it was…even if only implicitly so.
The acting overall left something to be desired. Todd Bruno tends to overplay his part, either being entirely too casual and jocular or displaying unrealistic anger. He traipses around disguising his identity from his victim with a simple, silver half-mask, hardly appearing to be a harbinger of pain and torture. As for Aniela McGuinness‘ portrayal of “She”, it’s fairly understated as she seems to display only mild reluctance or trepidation about their “plan”. So even though “She” is doesn’t seem to want to personally have a hand in any part in this revenge plot, she also doesn’t make much effort to distance herself from it. Actually it’s her LACK of participation that caused me to, rather accidentally, predict one of the plot twists. And then there’s Mike Stanley’s turn, as the alleged rapist referred to as “It”. Rather than being the littlest bit fearful of his predicament, he comes across as irritated, like he’s being inconvenienced by his being kidnapped and then tortured. He also neither seems truly despicable nor remotely pitiable as a character. I was really hoping for performances that were a bit edgier and raw; I wanted the characters to be truly, emotionally affected by the reality of the situation in which they found themselves….especially considering the subject matter. However, they more often appear to be either melodramatic or disingenuous.
As a result of what may have been budgetary constraints, the production values (albeit for an independent film) were not particularly high. The result is a lack of any remotely cringe-worthy abuse visited upon the rapist in question. As I stated before, it didn’t have to be a total gore-fest, but anyone with a modicum of creativity can make even the most implicit torture scene seem incredibly brutal. Show the audience some gnarly looking torture implements, mix in some truly awful, gut wrenching sound effects and screaming, maybe some spurts of stage blood, and you can still fill the audiences minds with horrific possibilities. Promotional posters for the film even featured the outline of a circular saw blade, giving a not so subtle nod to the Saw franchise. But this film is very light on blood and the only notable practical effect that’s shown is “It’s” foot getting lopped off with a hatchet. But the camera lingers too long allowing the viewer to see it wasn’t particularly well done or realistic. There’s also no real attempt to fit “He” with any kind of intimidating disguise or appearance. He wears his regular, street clothes and the aforementioned silver colored half mask. You know… the kind that’s held on by a rubber band. It’s the kind of mask that would be left as a last minute option on Halloween night at the local store, back before Spirit Halloween stores were so widespread.
Rape is an absolutely hateful and repugnant act, and those who would subject anyone, male or female, to such an act deserves SEVERE punishment. And having known a few women who were subjected to such defilement, I would have love to see the wrongdoers get exactly what they deserve…and then some. It’s for that reason that I was hoping for a much grittier and darker film than 3 turned out to be. One that shows the violator getting their just desserts in a way that stays with the viewer, even long after the credits have rolled. While films like They Call Her One Eye, American Mary, i Spit on Your Grave and Lipstick feature a cold and calculated dispensation of justice by way of vengeance upon the perpetrators, this film doesn’t quite deliver the goods. 5 /10