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raymac Written by raymac
Nov. 2, 2011 | 11:40 PM

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JULIA X 3-D (Screamfest)

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Review by Keeshan Giles

In JULIA X 3-D, the first directorial effort of writer/producer P.J. Pettiette (whose past credits include If I Die Before I Wake, Bad Dreams, & Jennifer’s Shadow), the topics of online dating, sadomasochism and sibling rivalry are blended together into a perfect threesome-pun intended-of horrific delight!

Julia (Valerie Azlynn) is on her first face to face date one rainy afternoon with a tall, dark Stranger (Hercules’ Kevin Sorbo - who is never actually referred to by name) after numerous online chats.  After briefly fantasizing about having sex in the bathroom with him, Julia has a change of heart & realizes that she can’t go through with the date.  She abruptly leaves & hurries back to her car.  Once inside her car, she is attacked from behind – by The Stranger!  It turns out that he is a notorious serial killer (who’s a big fan of the music of the Carpenters) that preys on online daters. 

He forces Julia to drive to a deserted warehouse; a place where he brings his “dates” to torture (his signature move-branding his victims with a letter of the alphabet) and then kill them.  After several escape attempts (and re-captures), Julia finally gets away to an old house in the middle of nowhere with The Stranger closing in.  Just when it looks as if Julia’s done for, her younger sister Jessica (Alicia Leigh Willis) assists in subduing the Stranger.  It turns out that Julia & Jessica are internet predators themselves; hunting down anyone who’s looking to get lucky online.

This movie works for several reasons.  It’s an intense, well-choreographed, sexual cat & mouse game where the position of power shifts so frequently that many times I found myself unsure of whom I should be rooting for; because they all possessed both redeeming and reviling qualities. 

The performances are great.  Valerie Azlynn effortlessly shifts from sexy to psycho like it was second nature to her.  Kevin Sorbo brings a combo of machismo (I mean c’mon the guy was Hercules), menace, & mirth to his character by delivering some of the funniest one-liners (often while humming “We’ve Only Just begun”)at the most inopportune moments in a film that I’ve seen in recent years.  He defends Julie Andrews as “a national treasure” during a knock-down, drag-out fight with Julia in one scene;  then declares “this is best date ever” as he’s clawed in the crotch in another.  Alicia Leigh Willis brings the perfect amount of bratty little sister-ness to the Jessica character as she desperately tries to step out from big sister Julia’s shadow; from seducing/torturing Sorbo’s character to bringing in a random victim of her own (Joel David Moore).  Moore’s transformation from willing casual sex participant to potential victim begging for his life is so grounded in reality that it makes it that much more fun to watch.

The 3D aspect of the film (which to me in recent years has become an often unnecessary & expensive plot distraction in horror films) actually made the film better!  It made you feel like you were a fly on the wall in the middle of all this blood spattered chaos; hoping like hell you weren’t about to get squished!

Overall, I really enjoyed this film.  As a casual online dater myself, this movie scared the crap out of me. Not so much because of the violence (and trust me there’s plenty to go around) but because of how vulnerable we make ourselves when it comes to social networking; exposing our personal lives for all to see.  And even if we are brave enough to meet someone face to face; it still has the potential for going horribly wrong.  But in the end all we can do is brace ourselves, buckle up & enjoy the ride….although after seeing this movie, I may need to remove some things from my Facebook page. 

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