Tuesday, October 24, 2017

NYC Horror ’17: 3

Even though I work in book publishing, I don’t know the proper etiquette for greeting fellow patients of a common shrink. That is how our unnamed man and woman initially came together, but their memories of the exact time-line differ significantly. Nonetheless, “He” is determined to give her the justice and closure she needs, by extracting a confession from her rapist. Getting the truth out of the man he calls “It” will be harder than he anticipated, but he will not fail due to a lack of effort in Lou Simon’s 3 (trailer here), which opens the 2017 New York City Horror Film Festival.

He was military trained as a medic, so is able to snatch It relatively easily and keep him alive after their interrogation sessions. Predictably, It protests his innocence, but She never wavers in her certainty. That is good enough for Him, even though He is a little unnerved by her insistence he was also a guest at that fateful party. He knows with absolute certainty they had not yet met, but he tries to dismiss it as a trick of the memory induced by extreme stress. Something about their conflicting memories nags at the back of his head, but a few amputations should help distract him.

All you who are faint of heart, why don’t you just exit this way now? 3 should not be dismissed as torture porn, but there is still very definitely torture. Yet, the stuff that will really unsettle the audience is all psychological in nature. Rather deceptively, Simon makes viewers think she has tipped her hand almost from the beginning, but she is really setting up later revelations to come.

Aniela McGuinness is terrific as She in a quiet, weirdly flaky, ominously manipulative kind of way. Don’t make a lot of assumptions about her. Likewise, Todd Bruno always conveys how badly damaged He is, even when he is committing problematic acts of brutality. Their chemistry together is both eerie and poignant, if such a combination is ever possible.

3 represents a big, big step up from Simon’s previous release, the disappointingly conventional and easily skippable All Girls Weekend. Although it is not as explicitly feminist, 3 dramatically addresses topics of sexuality and identity in ways that dovetail with the current national discussion. Recommended for hardy horror and payback thriller fans, 3 screens this Thursday (10/26) at the Cinepolis Chelsea, kicking off this year’s NYC Horror Film Festival.