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Ted Dekker, the best-selling author of over seventeen novels including The Circle Trilogy, Adam, Blink of an Eye, Skin, Saint, House and Obessed, has been known primarily as a “writer for the movie generation”. His work moves at a breakneck speed, quickly jumping into the action as if his novels were specifically written for the silver screen. Dekker’s unique writing style and vivid imagination has cultivated a devoted following for his books over the years. Unfortunately, I do not see the same following falling for the monotony found in the film adaptation of THR3E. I truly had high hopes for this movie when I retrieved from the shelves of Blockbuster the other day. It was based on a novel that had received excellent reviews and had the producer power of Ralph Winter (X-MEN) behind it. So, when I settled in and hit “play” I was actually, even though I had never heard of the film before, expecting to be on the edge of my seat by the end. I was sitting on the edge of my seat by the end, but it was more because I was ready to hit the “eject” button instead.

The story of THR3E is that of a seminary PHD student by the name of Kevin Parson (Marc Blucas) who is targeted by an illusive madman calling himself the Riddle Killer (Bill Moseley). While attempting to complete his religious philosophy thesis on the three evils, Kevin is contacted by the killer who is bound and determined to force Kevin to confess the sins he committed as a boy by killing everyone Kevin is emotionally attached to. With the assistance of a cop/criminal psychologist by the name of Jennifer Peters (Justine Waddell) and a childhood friend by the name of Samantha (Laura Jordan) he, one by one, solves the obscure biblical riddles left by the killer. Kevin tracks the madman back to his lair beneath the garden shed of Kevin’s childhood home where he is forced to confront his bizarre past of abuse and family dementia.

Though the concept behind THR3E is not exactly a new one an idea doesn’t always have to be a fresh out of the packing peanuts model in order to be well produced and entertaining. This movie was not only stale, it felt as if it had been left out in the rain to mildew for several months and then placed in the garden shed, along with Bill Moseley, to be forgotten. From the very opening scenes the viewer is pummeled over the head with a long string of absolutely terribly delivered lines from actress Justine Waddell as she runs through the streets in search of her brother. Not only is Justine’s performance lifeless at best, the script she is reading from is one of the worst written I have heard since THE THIRST. What is meant to be mad philosophical banter and savvy cop retort is hollow and juvenile making one wince within seconds of turning the movie on. She alternates from looking completely disinterested to completely disinterested and a little annoyed throughout the entire film. I have to say that it made me wonder whether or not I should be interested either?

Marc Blucas’ performance is equally uninspiring with his ability to portray the type of fear one would most likely be experiencing if stalked by a madman wielding bombs seemingly nonexistent. The background of the character is an interesting (I’m using that term loosely here) one and Blucas could have drawn heavily upon that motivation in order to create a unique portrayal of a man teetering on the edge of sanity after years of childhood abuse at the hands of an insane family. However, Blucas lumbers through the film with as much enthusiasm as Waddell causing the viewer to wonder if he is in any real danger at all. In fact, no one in the movie, until the last twenty minutes or so, seems really and truly concerned that they just might be the next person to find a bomb locked to their chest.

The most disappointing performance, however, came from horror icon Bill Moseley himself. I realize the producers placed him in a cliché costume of long stringy hair and dirty coveralls, but the inclusion of an announcer-styled projection of each of his lines removed any creepiness that might have been salvageable in the character to begin with. At any time, as he was rattling off weak biblical riddles about sin and salvation, I kept expecting him to go “And the high today will be a sunny 72 degrees! Now, back to you Kathy!” Poor Bill. I can imagine it was hard to muster up a lot of enthusiasm on the set as they alternated between images of him shuffling through the shadows of a basement, long hair swinging apishly around him, and images of the poorly constructed mask of duct tape his character uses when kidnapping his next victim. It’s just no excuse though, in my opinion, for an outright terrible performance. Towards the end, when the final stand is taking place, and the truth of who the killer really is comes to bubbling to the surface, Moseley finally gets riled up enough to start delivering some good old fashioned screaming rage, but it’s over too fast to really hold the viewer’s interest. Ah, I suppose a paycheck is a paycheck, right Bill?

Whenever I review a movie I always visit the IMDB website to check names, etc. Tonight I noticed that under “Plot Outline” it says, “This plot synopsis is empty.” What an appropriate statement for the movie THR3E. Empty and lost. The original Dekker novel is far more involved and intricate and I believe that 95% of that original content was lost in its translation into a script. Key information and character build was swept aside and neglected for the sake of time and in the end, THR3E became a husk of uneventful randomness. If I were Dekker I would have been cringing in my seat when this film was released, hoping it would not affect my book sales in the long run. Trust me when I say never judge an author on the film adaptation of any of their work. Hollywood has a way of stripping the soul and creativity from the original work and it should definitely repent for stealing the soul from THR3E.

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