“You have conquered and I yield. Yet, henceforward art though also dead – dead to the world, to Heaven, and to hope. In me did thou exist – and, in my death, see by this image, which is thy own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself.” – Edgar Allan Poe
The last of the Lionsgate / AfterDark double features covers the middle of the road. The films both deal more in science fiction or alternate realities than they do in any form of horror, one with the idea of a menacing world of doppelgangers and the other with changing the past through time travel. Both of these themes have been played to death before. Do they offer anything more here? Let’s examine the evidence, shall we?
Gina (Headey) is a hospital radiologist. A teaser is offered in the form of her latest case. While it’s not really essential to the story, it is nonetheless an important clue to things to come. She’s looking at an x-ray where the patients organs have been flip-flopped from where they are ordinarily found. A mirror image, if you will.
On the way home, Gina follows a woman driving her car who looks exactly like she does. She examines the woman’s apartment only to find photographs of herself that she doesn’t remember having taken. The phenomenon is not limited to herself, but appears to be effecting her entire family. Her father (Jenkins) and her sister (Duncan) are also experiencing some types of double interference. It might be someone claiming to have just seen them elsewhere. Who these people are and what they want isn’t exactly clear. The appearance of these doubles appears to follow unexplained shattered mirrors. There is also strong evidence that these identical identities are taking over the original people and leaving in their place a less emotional version.
You can’t watch this film without being reminded of such classics as Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. The big difference here is that we never do find out exactly what is going on here. Is it an invasion from a dimension in the mirror world? The movie decides that it’s best to remain unclear all the way through the end of the film. I don’t mind that so much if there were some satisfying answers to be found in the film itself.
The movie is far too contemplative. There are so many long moments of silence where the camera lingers on an expression or a fleeting moment. Director Sean Ellis is far more interested in showing off his sartorial artistic ability than actually entertaining his audience. I’m not sure that he even cares about the audience. We appear to be a necessary nuisance that is more likely to just get in the way of his doing something terribly important. I have a lot of trouble when a filmmaker treats its viewers as something to be loathed. He takes our time as though it had no true meaning outside of his own self-importance. I felt insulted by the time I finished watching the movie.
The only saving grace here, the only thing that didn’t make me feel like I should send Ellis a bill for my time, were a couple of the performances. Give a whole lot of credit to Lena Headey who made so much more out of her part than was ever there at all. She can turn much of that silence into something with a little more meaning. Her feelings of confusion mirror those of the audience with whom she appears to feel a little sorry for. I’m not sure why she took the part to begin with, but she did everything an actor can do to make it even somewhat interesting.
This is like watching a really bad imitation of a Twilight Zone episode, but without the subtle wit that Rod Serling brought to the table. In the end Ellis flips all of us off and practically demands that we thank him for the insult. It’ll be a long time before I trust Ellis with five minutes of my time again.
The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations:
Any similarity to the other two films in this franchise is completely in the troubled minds of the filmmakers. This is absolutely a case where the name’s only function was to bring in potential fans of the original film. Does that mean it’s a terribly bad film? Not necessarily. It’s just not really a good fit for the established franchise.
Sam (Carmack) has a pretty cool superpower, and he uses it to fight crime. How cool is that? Well, pretty cool… literally. You see Sam climbs into a bathtub filled with ice water. In this state he is somehow teleported to any time and place in the past. He’s not merely an observer there, but that’s what he does anyway. You see, he did interfere once when he was a kid. He saved the life of his sister in a fire, and it ended up killing his parents instead. From that point on he’s decided to work by a strict code of “observe, don’t interfere”. That doesn’t mean he can’t stop the bad guys, even if it is after the fact. He gets case files from a friend on the police force. He goes back in time to witness the murder. Then he reports important information to his detective friend that can identify the bad guy. He covers his ability to get this info by claiming to be a psychic. It’s all a pretty good system. His sister monitors him while he’s “away”, and his old high school physics teacher, Goldberg (Yon) gives him advice and a place he can confide in.
One day Elizabeth (Habel) comes to his apartment. She is the sister of his girlfriend who was murdered several years ago. The bad guy is safely tucked away behind bars and is now just days away from execution. But now sis Elizabeth no longer believes that Lonnie (Wilkinson) really killed her sister. She found a diary that proves she was cheating on Sam with Lonnie and the two were in love, as he testified at his trial but was not believed. While Elizabeth doesn’t know about Sam’s ability, she does know he’s good at helping the cops find answers. She wants to hire him to find the truth. But can Sam watch his girlfriend get killed and do nothing? Probably not. What follows is a series of attempts to set things right that only serve to distort the “present” each time Sam returns.
We’ve seen it before. Can time be altered, or does nature have a way of keeping things on track? This is really something akin to the Final Destination franchise. The only thing that keeps the film interesting enough to keep our attention is that it’s a bit amusing to try and guess how Sam is going to change his own time again. There’s also a murder mystery about a serial killer that’s lifted almost entirely out of the film Frequency. It’s enough to keep you guessing who the “real” killer might be. The film throws enough suspects at you that it plays out as a better whodunit than a science fiction or horror film. There’s enough twists and turns to at least keep you somewhat engaged.
For both films the 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 20-25 mbps.
The colors are very cold in this film. There’s a lot of that blue tint that has become a bit trendy of late. Detail is quite good in this high-definition image presentation. The close-ups are where the real texture and sharpness are best displayed. Black levels are average. Fortunately, there’s not a ton going on in the shadows here. Colors are a bit washed by the tint with evidence of a ton of color correction.
The Butterfly Effect 3:
This one looks the most natural. There’s not an explosion of color, but it does tend toward normal colors and hues. This collection is dominated by artful manipulations of color and light. You don’t have that here. Black levels are a bit above average. There is a scene in the first time jump that has particularly good shadow definition and details in the inky darkness.
Both films contain a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio presentation.
This is a very quiet film, and I’ll have to admit that sound is used most efficiently here. Every sound appears carefully calculated to build a specific mood. While I found the film too contemplative in general, I have to say this is one of the best uses of silence and subtle sound manipulations I’ve heard. It all effectively translates to a very suspenseful atmosphere. When mirrors shatter, the surrounds pick up the crystal sounds just perfectly. Dialog is where it needs to be and easy to hear at all times.
The Butterfly Effect 3:
This one was a bit of a disappointment in the audio presentation. Everything is completely up front. The sound doesn’t immerse us into the action at all. In contrast to the natural image, the sound keeps us away from the action. Yes, you can hear the dialog fine, but there doesn’t appear to be any dynamic fullness to the completely flat sound that is forever stuck in the muddy mid-ranges.
All features are in standard definition.
Miss HorrorFest Webisodes: The search was on for the next babe to represent the 8 Films To Die For. They sent in their audition tapes and these were aired online for the fans to vote on.
I have to say, I would skip this particular double feature, if I were you. Both films suffer from filmmakers who decide to keep too many valuable facts from the viewer. In The Broken you get almost no useful information. In The Butterfly Effect 3 there is no explanation of how the central character even has the ability. How did he discover the correct procedure to even use his ability? Most of us don’t spend time in a bathtub filled with ice and have heart monitors stuck to our bodies. The movie has us believe that he took his first trip as an elementary-school-age child. As a movie-goer I don’t like being kept on a need-to-know basis. I respect that certain things will be withheld for just the right moment. I even accept that you’re not going to give me all of the answers. I’m an intelligent guy, and it’s nice when I’m given the freedom to fill in some blanks in my own particular way. But don’t treat me like an enemy agent who has to be kept completely in the dark. Remember. You invited me into your world. At least make me feel like you want me there. Give me a world I can buy into and I’ll suspend all of my logic for you to do with as you please. Sometimes I just want you to entertain me. I’m placing myself at your bidding. Don’t insult me. Give me a film I can become a part of and I’ll be yours for however long you want me. Those are the movies that make me stop and take notice. “It’s not uncommon, but it’s pretty rare.”