The biggest compliment that I can pay to this film is that I have seen worse. The acting is bad, but not painful. The plot is sub-par, but not entirely horrible. The dialog is forced, but not filled with bad teenage slang. Yes, this is a horrible film, but I have seen worse.
Truth be told, The Brotherhood III is more like an excruciatingly long short film. The main emotion that I felt as I moved through this disc was… boredom. Huge segments of the film are simply without dialog or action of any kind….The first half-hour of this 83-minute film contains a total of seven minutes of dialog. The remaining 23 minutes are filled with slow motion shots of a single character walking down a hallway. Sometimes, this character is followed by the killer, sometimes they are not.
I have other complaints about the film (the killer is dressed like an extra from a Prince video, for example), but they are all somehow understandable. Like most of us, I enjoy a bad horror movie from time to time. It’s entirely pleasing to see dumb kids do foolish things and get punished. Bad films have a certain charm in their predictability. Boredom, however, is unforgivable.
There is one point of innovation in this film, however, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it here. One of the basic plot elements of all horror films is the use of sex as a justification for death. Put succinctly, promiscuity kills. DeCoteau twists this convention slightly, as the main sexual object in this film is male. In fact, a large slow motion segment of the film is devoted to watching this kid shower (oddly enough, in his underwear). It’s not a huge difference, but any twist on a genre with rules as strict as this one deserves some special recognition.
In the end, however, one minor tweak in the standard horror film structure does nothing so save this snooze-fest. There are plenty of fun, bad horror movies out there to rent or buy. I suggest you pick one of them up. This one, however, is a great substitute for a glass of warm milk, or perhaps for counting sheep.
There is only one audio track available on this disc… “stereo”. Not Dolby Stereo, just some random generic stereo format. As a result, all of the audio is anchored to the front of house, with no panning or spatial imaging whatsoever. In fact, the track sounds to me like a mono track that has been split to play through the left and right speakers.
The quality of the source audio itself is tinny and compressed. There is little dynamic range, resulting in a soundtrack that has no subtlety or suspense. Some low end does show up on a few brief occasions, but I suspect that this is purely coincidental. The bass tones are muddy and undefined, and generally a nuisance. Dialog is also muddled, but that’s not that big of a deal, since there is so little dialog in the film anyway.
Finally, the cheesy synthesizer and drum machine score kills off any hope of this being a decent audio track.
Not surprisingly, all of the “action” here is presented in a full screen format. Thankfully, I didn’t see any instances of pan-and-scan, but I certainly noticed areas where the actors’ faces were halfway out of the frame. When you are watching a movie with as little dialog as this one has, seeing the actor’s faces while they are speaking is absolutely crucial.
Black levels are unimpressive, which is a real shame, since the film takes place at night. What should be deep blacks appear as a dull grey-blue. In fact, all of the colors appear faded and washed out, which in turn reflects on the quality of the film as a whole.
On the up side, there is definitely some grain present, but it is not overly excessive. I was also pleased that I didn’t spot any major blemishes at any point during the film. This is hardly enough to warrant a good score in the video department, however.
The only supplemental feature on this disc is a trailer for the film. I’m fine with that… I really wasn’t expecting much from this title anyway. My frustration is that the trailer is presented in widescreen. That’s all fine and good, and I’m glad they went this extra step, but why oh why is the feature in full screen? Obviously, a widescreen version exists, so why crop the feature? If they were smart, the trailer would have been full screen as well. (Actually, if they were truly smart, both would be in widescreen, but whatever.)
This is not a completely dreadful film. Production values are decent, and some effort has obviously been put forth to make this a quality piece of work. Unfortunately, as a horror film, it fails on a number of levels. Violence, blood and gore are all kept to a minimum, the killer’s costume is laughable, and there is no real nudity to be found, save some dude in his jockeys. If you are looking for an extremely slow film with no payoff, this may be the one for you.
…but who is looking for that, anyway?
Special Features List