Friday, March 12, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #84, Thr3e

One word: Finally!!! When I set out to watch the worst movies of the last decade, I knew there would be some really awful movies. Some movies (Three Strikes, All About Steve, The Master of Disguise) are so bad that it is actually painful to watch them. But my tolerance for pain is pretty high. I expected a great number of funny bad movies. So far, that has not really happened. I found Uwe Boll and I laughed at the historic ineptitude of Battlefield Earth but these movies have generally been considerably less entertaining than I thought they would be. Until now!

When The Passion had such great box office success, studios thought there might be a future in faith-based movies. To take advantage of that, 20th Century Fox created a subsidiary called Fox Faith, designed to green-light movies with a Christian bent. Along those lines, Fox Faith produced an adaptation of a Christian thriller novel, Thr3e.

An aside, regarding faith-based entertainment. Perhaps I am prejudiced, but I am very wary about anything based around religion. It's hard to completely buy into anything that has an obvious agenda, be it Michael Moore's movies or Fox News. On top of that, religion-based entertainment tends towards family-friendly, so there's no edge. Matisyahu's rap is cool, but he's rapping about the Messiah and I just can't relate. Ditto Christian rock (Note: Kanye gets a pass on "Jesus Walks" because a) the beat is sick and b) he doesn't do exclusively religious stuff). Could someone make a religious movie that I'd like? Possibly, so long as it approaches its topic from a philosophical nature. But, let's say someone tried to make a rip-off of Saw but made it family-friendly and with Christian themes. Does that sound like a good idea?

Thr3e is about a seminary student who is stalked by a serial killer. The killer had previously killed the brother of a police psychologist who, with her personal interest in the case, inserts herself into the life of the student in order to help him and catch the killer. The killer works by using riddles to give his victims the chance to get themselves out of the situation. He also wants the student to confess to some sin. He kills exclusively with bombs -- well, "kills" is a strong word because, besides the police psychologist's brother, nobody actually dies in the bombs. Here's that family-friendly part. Forget there being no cursing, there is no gore. It's a horror movie, a Saw rip-off, that has no blood in it. Basically, nobody gets hurt. What a horror film! The plot rolls on until the end, where there is a twist that is so out-of-the-blue and so cliched that I actually had to pause the movie because I was laughing so hard.

But, fear not, you don't have to wait until the end to laugh your ass off at the absurdity of this movie! The actors deliver their lines with a passion that reminded me of the acting in those Sprint commercials that they show before movies in the theater. Of particular note is Justine Waddell as the psychologist, who delivers her lines in this faux-serious manner that brings chuckles every time she opens her mouth. Many of the actors are a little too young or a little too pretty for the characters they are supposed to be portraying. Also, do you cherish non-disabled actors playing mentally-handicapped characters and failing miserably as much as I do? Then step right up, because you'll get the most ridiculous pair of those since Mark Holton (Francis from Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Chubby in Teen Wolf) played one in Leprechaun. The special effects in the film are amazing in their cheapness, including a scene where a bus is on fire except you can easily see that the bus is okay and the flames were super-imposed on the print in editing (I can't find a video of it or I'd show it). Laughs all around!

The religion does play into it a little bit. A few of the killer's riddles turn out to be lines from Romans in the New Testament. (Near the end of the movie, the psychologist turns to a professor at the seminary and asks if we can fight evil by coming to grips with the potential for good and evil that is in all of us. The professor responds that this is not the case, we can only fight evil by accepting the power of God. I rolled my eyes. As I said, I'm probably prejudiced to it but, as I also said, I could probably like a religion-based movie. It would just help if they didn't make one that's so easy to mock.

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