I can't think of a movie I have anticipated seeing as much as I anticipated seeing Ted Dekker's Thr3e. Thr3e is a story based off of the book by Dekker that has done extremely well in the fiction world. If you aren't familiar with Dekker you can read about him in the interview I did in 2004 by clicking on this the link: In that interview we talk about Thr3e, his thematic style of writing, and the future of his books becoming movies. As of this writing, there are three other books slated to become movies, most scheduled with the new Fox Company, Fox Faith. In that interview we spoke of his initial meetings with Fox and their excitement of turning his novels into movies.
The Christian market hasn't seen an author like Ted Dekker with the possible exception of Frank Paretti, he is the closest thing to a Christian Stephen King or Dean Koontz there is out there. In some ways I suspect he gets offended at the label of a "Christian" writer, he is instead an author who is a Christian and is instead painting images and stories with a Christian World View. In fact, one would be hard pressed to tell the difference between Dekker and many other authors who are not Christian. In that regard, Thr3e is a pleasant surprise. It is a movie, which I as a Christian would have no trouble taking my non Christian friends to see. That being said, it has to be compared to the non Christian movie market and world. While I wouldn't hesitate taking my friends, I also know that compared to this form of movie being released by non Christian companies, that while good, it wouldn't be quite up to par.
The concept behind the story in Thr3e is a serial bomber and killer is apparently after Kevin Parson a young seminary student. Kevin later at the aid of childhood friend Samantha and policewoman Jennifer Peters seek to solve this murder mystery before Kevin and those closest to him suffer the consequences of the killer and stalker. What we end up with is a mystery, suspense, thriller that has the viewer guessing from one suspect to the other. It is a different style of mystery, there are enough clues to figure everything out on screen but most are shocked when they eventually get to the end. There are enough suspects that the viewer often changes their mind and thankfully, the movie follows the storyline of the book. There are only a few very minor changes and we see the potential of a movie to faithfully follow the storyline of the book it is based on. Thr3e shows promise of future Dekker novels that are slated for the big screen.
Unfortunately, and this as a fan, with the exception of some minor characters in the movie, I was disappointed. While the story of Dekker is great, the movie falls far short in other areas. First is the acting. While Marc Blucas in the lead role of Kevin Parson actually looks a lot like the author Ted Dekker, his performance as Kevin falls flat. There are a number of subtle ways that I was disappointed in the portrayal here. I unfortunately can't mention some of those as it would relate to my past experience and one of the central themes of the movie. It wasn't just his role though, the majority of the cast was weak and were not very convincing.
There is an exception to this, and the exception is with who I will refer to as the Devil's Rejects crowd. Several characters, using actors from Rob Zombie's movie The Devil's Rejects largely resemble the roles they played in the Zombie movie. The characters were as fun on screen in Thr3e as they were in The Devil's Rejects. Those roles include, Bill Moseley who plays the part of Slater and Priscilla Barns playing the part of Belinda Parson. There is also Tom Bower playing the part of Eugene Parson, and Jeffrey Lee Hollis playing the part of Bob Parson. If you haven't caught my drift yet, the Parson family was fascinating and well played out in this movie. I would have loved to see the whole movie revolve around this family as they are sickly strange, and definitely evil. Yet, outside of the Barnes family, most every other character falls short.
There were other disappointing aspects of the movie, including the editing and direction. There are frequent choppy editing sequences and on occasion key flash back episodes where the direction is not clean enough as to give a clear indication as to what is going on. Thankfully I had read the book and was able to explain things to my wife and son who were there watching the movie with me. After awhile they got an idea as to what was going on and was able to follow along. I could also talk about the disappointing score but will simply say, in the places where we needed background, we didn't have it, and in the places where there was background, the movie unfortunately followed too many horror and thriller stereotypes.
The last complaints of the movie have to deal with the special effects and the violence of the movie being toned down. This movie really cries for a legitimate pg-13 rating if not an R rating. I have a hard time understanding how the movie got a pg-13 rating as there is very little in the movie to justify that rating. The special effects were week, and in a movie where a little blood, and gore would have added to the horror of what was going on, it is virtually non existent. One of the things I was impressed with Dekker in my interview with him some years ago was his understanding of the need to paint evil with a very dark brush. I agree, but it is almost as if the movie toned down the evil in order to appeal to the Christian audience. A very serious mistake as a well done Thr3e would have appealed to a mass audience, including those who follow and like Dekker. Now what would have really been fun would have been to have Rob Zombie direct this tale. I can see it with the cast and the beautiful portrayal it would have been.
I want to finish this review on a positive note, and again, the positive is the story. Not only do we have a Mystery, Thriller, Suspense story, we have a story that has teeth to its message. I love the exploration of evil the movie takes. It takes it on in a non preachy, thought provoking way. Dekker is onto something here, as he has been for a number of years. The thought provoking message, and great storytelling, despite the flaws, makes the movie worth viewing. My hopes are that Dekker continues on and that Fox Faith Films learns a lesson to not lesson the dramatic impact of his stories to appeal to a "Christian" audience. to continue to do that is a mistake and a shame if it continues on. I honestly can think of few that want to see the stories of Ted Dekker succeed in film as much as I. But Fox Faith Films need to get on board people who have an understanding of how to do that. An understanding of the crowds and masses that Dekker's stories appeal to is essential to make the stories successful. If they do that, they won’t have an okay movie on their hands that Dekker's Christian fans will see, they will instead have on their hands, a blockbuster that could make a company a success. I only hope and pray that the next go around they will do just that. To do otherwise would be, well, would be just evil.
On a Scale of 1-10 for a perfect 10 - 3 and a great story, a somewhat lackluster 7
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Clips from Thr3e