MARCH 2, 2010
I am 99% sure that it was my Horror People, Dear Reader (we’ll bring it back someday, I promise!) cohort Simon Barrett that told me The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations was a good movie, but Fearnet’s Lawrence Raffel took the fall. Either way, they’re mostly wrong. It’s not a disaster, but it’s seemingly written by someone who read the back of the DVD of the first movie and went from there, ridden with plot contrivances, and sort of dull when the killer’s not around.
But man, those kill scenes are ridiculous. There are only three, but they are gory and insane, something I was not expecting. Body parts are sliced off, blood sprays everywhere, etc. It’s almost like the filmmaker knew that the film wouldn’t catch anyone’s attention otherwise (indeed, such elements are the only things that make this an actual horror movie, which allowed it to play in theaters with the After Dark festival instead of simply going DTV and being ignored forever).
The kills cannot make up for the fact that the movie never establishes clear rules, and its nature as a sequel makes it even more confusing. Our guy can go back in time to whenever and wherever he wants (something Kutcher’s character could not), but he never changes anything, he just observes. In theory - fine; obviously something will happen and cause him to intervene and thus cause the titular effect. But the ripples he causes are largely minor and for the most part, unrelated to anything. At one point he goes back in time and witnesses a “murder” that turns out to be a rape fantasy, only to get caught by the guy (who isn’t into the role-playing, despite his girlfriend’s pleas and explanation that she "read about it in Cosmo" - since when does Cosmo work rape fantasies into their “10 Ways To Please Your Lover” articles?). But when he goes back to the present, he is now living on some dude’s couch. How in the hell do those things correlate?
In fact, none of the “changes” we see are related to what he did in the past, at least, not in any readily logical way. They are just changes for changes’ sake, for audience members to identify that things have changed. The original (I never saw the 2nd film, by the way) didn’t always spell things out either, but it was at least largely coherent - Ashton did something that cost him his arms and legs, and thus in the new future, his would-be girlfriend is with his best friend. Maybe they DID spell this out (can’t remember them doing so), but if not, it’s not hard to see what happened - his injuries prevented him from doing things with them, the two got closer without him, and started fuckin’. This guy goes back and looks at a murder scene (doesn’t even seem to DO anything) and when he returns, his sister is now successfully employed instead of being an agoraphobic pothead. OK, movie. Plus, he jumps back and forth so often, none of said changes ever have any sort of emotional effect whatsoever. They barely even bother with the “OK, things have changed and I can’t let on that I’m confused” aspect of things.
Of course, if anything MEANINGFUL had changed this would be a bigger issue. Despite going back years at times, nothing ever seems to affect his basic relationships with people. He’s always friendly with one cop and suspected/ridiculed by another, he’s always close with his sister, he’s got a Mark Boone Junior-esque friend who he can relay exposition to, etc. This adds to the incredibly jarring nature of the film - if what minor thing he did in the past could cause his sister’s job to change, why is everything else so similar? Same roommate, same wardrobe, same relationship with the cops, etc. It actually plays out a lot like that movie Déjà Vu, where he was observing past stuff and doing something about in the future, but then they just threw in some Butterfly effects for good measure. It wouldn’t surprise me if the film was written as something else and inexplicably (and poorly) reworked into a Butterfly sequel.
The reveal of the killer is also jaw-droppingly inane. I must admit I didn’t see it coming, because I thought HE was the killer, a la Timecrimes. But no, it’s his sister (After Dark staple Rachel Miner), who was killing any girls that Sam became close to because she wanted to fuck him herself. Points for originality, but it also introduces more plot holes. If she can jump through time herself, why was she living in squalor during key scenes in the film? And why has she waited so long to make her move? Hell, they’re so close at the beginning of the film I thought they WERE boyfriend and girlfriend. They then blow their chance to make up for the original’s theatrical (happy) ending - Sam goes back to the fire that killed their parents and lets her die instead. Why not just kill himself (as Kutcher’s character did in the original ending of the first film) and thus spare everyone from having to deal with him? No, instead we get an honest to god picnic, with pretty much every character showing up, alive and happy.
Actually one character is missing - the whore bartender who Sam fucks in one timeline and gets rejected by in another (because now she’s engaged, another change that in no way could have anything to do with what he did when he changed the past). Their fuck scene is probably the most ridiculous in the film (which, again, is about time traveling incest supporters). They go at it in pretty much every position I can think of, but then he sees a picture of his dead girlfriend and loses his mojo, which prompts her to freak out and call him “gay”. Girl, he just fucked you 10 ways from Sunday! It’s about the journey, not the destination, you know?
I knew I shouldn’t have bothered with this one. The other entries in After Dark 3’s lineup were largely decent, but this one is the same sort of laughable junk the first two Fests were loaded with. Congrats, Slaughter, you’re no longer my least favorite entry of ADF3!
Oh, and suspected serial killers aren’t usually placed in general holding cells with drunks and parking ticket violators. Way to waste money hiring extras for yet another plot hole.
What say you?