Thr3e (2006)

*. I know what you’re thinking. With a title like that, it’s a rip-off of Se7en, right down to the digit replacing a letter in the title and the killer punishing his victims for their sins.
*. Well, it is. But the thing is, it’s an even bigger rip-off of Saw. There’s a serial killer named the Riddle Killer (or “R.K.” to the police) who leaves these taped messages that even sound like they’re being done in Jigsaw’s voice.
*. A final film to mention as an influence is Adaptation (2002). Yes, Adaptation. It’s been remarked that the plot here is quite similar to that of the garbage serial-killer screenplay written by dim brother Donald in that movie, which is titled The Three. And The Three is introduced to us as a joke: a script so dumb and conventional that we’re meant to laugh at. Could this have been an accident?
*. I could keep going. Thr3e is one of the most unabashedly unoriginal movies ever made. It’s a rip-off of everything it could get its hands on. Technically it’s an adaptation of a novel of the same title by Ted Dekker that had come out a few years previously, but it’s really a rehash of every psycho-thriller cliché ever put on film.
*. It was also, if you can believe it, the first theatrical release for Fox Faith, which was a division of 20th Century Fox set up to present morally-driven, “Christian friendly,” and Christian-themed movies. And by “Christian” they meant Evangelicals. Fox Faith’s motto was “Films you can believe in.”
*. In practical terms, what this means is no real violence. The psycho killer is a mad bomber, so you just see very bad CGI explosions with fake flames that don’t look like they’d hurt anyone. It also means there’s no bad language. The only bombs are those CGI bombs, not F-bombs. When people get angry they call other people bad names like “pukes,” “worms,” or “liar!”
*. Aside from that, I don’t see where this is a Christian film at all, aside from the presence of the not-very-bright philosophy professor Kevin has at the seminary. He doesn’t know what century Kant lived in? And he’s impressed that Kevin does?
*. If you’re amazed to find out that a movie whose most immediate forebears are Se7en and Saw was the debut of a Christian film company, you should be. It’s an odd fit and doesn’t work at all. It does, however, add to the general sense of goofiness.
*. Yes, this is a very bad movie. Websites that study these things found it to be one of the most critically panned films of the decade. It is, however, bad in a fun sort of way. Every five minutes you have to grin at another wild improbability, or a character doing or saying something totally unexpected. And the twist ending, while on the one hand just another cliché, takes the cliché to such an improbable extreme that you have to laugh out loud. It’s still probably not worth bothering with, but if you have a sweet tooth for awfulness it’s something you might enjoy.

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