Julia X 3D – (Screamfest) Review
Julia X 3D begins innocently enough with beautiful blonde Julia on a date with the handsome guy she’s met online (known only as “The Stranger”). Before we know it, The Stranger chains Julia in his van and she’s forced to watch him dispose of his previous victim before bringing her to his warehouse lair. So begins a night-long descent into madness as Julia escapes and The Stranger chases her into the woods, through his isolated house, the swamp, and an abandoned school before the tables turn in an unexpected manner.
Kevin Sorbo is a menacing delight as The Stranger, the nutcase who’s been luring girls from online chatrooms to their certain doom all to the tune of The Carpenters’ “Close to You” on his iPod. As the film goes on, the song becomes a dark comical foreshadowing to the carnage that Sorbo’s character is about to inflict: we hear the song, we know we’re about to see blood!
Valerie Azlynn shines as Julia, the victim who turns out to be The Stranger’s psychotic soulmate. Alicia Leigh Willis plays Julia’s even-more-psychotic sister Jessica, who joins in on the bloodletting and captures Sam (Joel David Moore) who ends up caught in the middle of all this cat & mouse madness. The action is fast and, for the most part, suspenseful and the dialogue is spiced with double entendres. While both men are tied up at one point The Stranger tells Sam: “I’ve done things with these girls you wouldn’t believe.”
We’re hit right away with the film’s slick intro sequence, as newspaper articles, police files, victims’ online profiles, etc. fly through the screen and away from us at different depths. Overall, the immersive 3D is used to great effect and never as a distracting, in-your-face gimmick. Environmental shots using fog and raindrops utilize the 3D to its fullest. Director P.J. Pettiette serves us a variety of visuals: serene shots of tree branches and swamp water in the Bayou as Julia hides, then flying feathers from a torn pillow during a chaotic, bloody fight with the pair in bed.
A drawback is that Julia X 3D tends to shift in tone, from plausible to over-the-top, and especially during a flashback which shows us the girls were sexually abused as children by their father. Might have been better left out then we’d be left wondering what turned these sisters into homicidal maniacs to begin with. Not knowing is always scarier!
Director PJ Pettiette best described Julia X 3D when he introduced the film at Screamfest: “It’s kind of like Saw meets Home Alone meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith”. Even though the action’s a bit cartoonish at times and the tone varies throughout, the film is still a bloody fun ride, especially in 3D!