3 (2017) REVIEW – A Rough But Rewarding Horror

Writer/director/producer Lou Simon is one you should keep an eye on if you dig horror. She’s a very talented woman in a male-dominated genre who’s not afraid to take things all the way.

Her latest, simply titled 3, is a rape revenge story that takes place at a single location and features, except for some peripheral extras, three characters. A woman identified only as She (Aniela McGuinness) is at the remote house of a man simply known as He (Todd Bruno). He’s only known her for a few months, but he has sworn to help bring her rapist to justice by forcing him to confess to the crime. A psychoanalyst referred to as It (Mike Stanley) is lured to He’s house on the pretense of getting paid 5,000 dollars to help settle his agoraphobia. When It pulls up to the remote house, he’s ambushed by He, who wears a rather silly looking silver party mask that covers his eyes. From there, It is tied up in He’s grungy basement, being tortured into confessing to the rape.

So any viewer who knows this subgenre at all is going to immediately look for a twist. The narrative straight line is just too predictable. But Simon is aware that the audience is expecting a twist, and she’s able to turn our expectations around and subvert our new idea of where the film is headed. We have to wait until the end of the movie for a twist that I didn’t see coming because I was already so convinced that I had figured the whole thing out. Very cool, of course, that Simon was able to stay a step ahead of the audience, but unfortunately it undercuts the tension because we’re sure we’ve figured the whole thing out already.


There are plot elements that seem silly, at least at first. That party mask is no disguise, of course, since It can clearly see the guy’s hair and most of his face, and most importantly hear his unfiltered voice. As the movie goes on, the explanation for the silly mask reveals itself, and it makes sense enough, but at first the whole thing just comes off as comical, and it really took me out of the movie. The same thing goes for the videotaped confession. Who would think that a confession made under such duress would ever be admissible? That, too, is explained pretty tidily, but again, it comes off as unintentionally funny until we get what’s going on.

There’s also a lot of dialogue and the two leads aren’t quite up to its delivery. Todd Bruno likes his Shatneresque dramatic pauses, and even seems like he’s looking at the camera a couple times. All of this serves to give much of the back and forth between She and He a soap opera-ish quality.

3 is expertly shot and skillfully edited. Unfortunately, it’s saturated in greens, making it look like just about every other low budget horror film I’ve seen in the last five years or so. For all of its flaws, the story still has vision. If only the visuals were as inspired.

Hoo-boy. This thing gets pretty fucking gory as it goes on. Limbs are graphically disposed of. That sort of thing. It gets just this close to becoming gratuitous, but never crosses that line. Get ready to feel very bleak, hopeless even. But there’s purpose to our feeling this way, and while we don’t exactly get a happy ending, it’s definitely a satisfying one. 3 is quite a rough film, but it’s worth sticking it out until the end, where your curiosity will definitely be rewarded.

3 had its world premiere at HorrorHound weekend on September 8th.

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