Art major Max lives a disciplined life, especially in the love department which is constantly challenged by her roommate to play the field, but Max aims for true love and will consummate her feelings toward longtime boyfriend, Brian, whose patience will be rewarded with a sexy maid costume at a Halloween party that will eventually lead back to the bedroom. Before the party, Max is kidnapped by masked men at gunpoint and taken to an abandoned textile factory. Surrounded by All Hallows Eve zealots and eight other hooded and bound women, Max becomes the ritualized girl number three, a number bestowed upon her as a chosen sacrifice amongst the brotherhood for sex and, most likely, death. When part of the crumbling building collapses, Max seizes the opportunity to flee, but as escape from the building seems impossible and other women screams echo through the vacant hallways, girl number three has been pushed too far and picks up an old fire axe, concluding that she must kill them all.
The second Shami Media Group distributed production to come across our chop block in a matter of weeks. First, the Nathan Thomas Milliner directed “A Wish for the Dead” written by Herschel Zahnd was the fitting entry film to ease into and extract our thoughts, takes, and opinions. Overall, Milliner’s film sold a solid product. Now, here’s Herschel Zahnd directing “Girl Number Three” that’s written by Nathan Thomas Milliner and Zahnd guides us down a completely different pathway from Milliner’s wish granting of undead havic and into a conceivably relevant sadistic exploitation and vengeance thriller. Released a decade ago in 2009 and based off of a Milliner’s short graphic novella, which seems to be a reoccurring and fruitful source of material for their production company Renegade Arts Productions, Zahnd’s ice breaker into the feature film market with “Girl Number Three” precedes the Milliner’s “A Wish for the Dead,” kickstarting the duo’s long wrong together into independent filmmaking.
With the two filmmakers so intwined, of course there are others, in the cast, that have had starred or have had bit parts in both films. Leading lady, Julie Streble, is one of them. Streble’s tackles the titular character who shoulders more than just being a conventional final girl; in fact, far from it as she’s a girl who makes things final…forever. Streble has an absolute vision as a scorned and beguiled woman to well-round Max’s initial love is true nature and her ideology slowly unravels as Max’s day trek becomes nothing more than an objectifying daily journey as the film progresses. From being bumped into twice by men, without an apologetic gesture, and being googly-eyed and hit on with unwelcome advances, Zahnd forces Max’s everyday struggle with the opposite sex down the audience’s already #MeToo’d cultured throats – remember, this film was made 10 years ago before many of the current movements. Other characters are not thoroughly developed to be systematically a part of the story to unfold in such importance, but play significant parts in her physical and mental reshaping of being a killer elite and the actors and actresses in those role include Kent Carney, Shawn Dolphin, Jess White, Jason Crowe (“Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2”) and “A Wish for the Dead” troupe – Dennis Grinar, Lori Cooke, Melissa Hoff-Decker, Chuck Lee Miller, and Adam Pepper.
“Girl Number Three” has a story that drives down a one lane road, a road certainly headed for Max to give her abductors hell, but a proverbial fork in the road puts a monkey wrench into gears already in motion. There won’t be any spoilers to be had here, but the outcome of “Girl Number Three” discerns differently in a social context that maintains another variant of disturbing exploits. A welcoming trickster’s commodity might change perceptions or might insight and evoke counter attitudes of how Max unravels her newfound vindictiveness. I praise Zahnd and Milliner for their foresight of a cultural that’s abrasively pandemic and how the structure of their film decimates one demeanor to seamlessly flow into another without a speck of hesitation. However, the latter borders being undercooked, and perhaps favors an unchancy raw red center, in not dumping more into the backstory or even circumnavigate with a savage shocker of an ending. The end scene was good enough to call the film quits, but not without leaving much to be desired.
MVDVisual and Shami Media Group ups the kill counter with the Renegade Arts Production, “Girl Number Three,” releasing the 80 minute unto DVD home video. The singer layer DVD is presented in a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio. Filmed in black and white, the devoid of hues reinforces the subject tone while also appearing to shade obvious low-budget obtrusions. With a story that mainly takes place inside a ramshackle building, black and white was an obvious choice as colors receptacles would be sorely underused and everything would just appear vapid and monotonous, like looking at the same four walls in a prison cell or a high school classroom. However, there’s always a downside to shooting black and white, such as contrasts levels on an unstable picture and the evident presence of digital noise. Exteriorly, the blown up moon and glowing yellow building windows composite was superficial at best, but clever in a pinch. The English language 2.0 stereo mix had the worse of the two major technical aspects with a low-bit rate that caused some hissing flare ups, the lossy metal soundtrack lacks robust fidelity, and there’s was also a complete disregard for depth. For example, when Max is exiting a store on her cell phone, her vocals remain on the same audio level from the background to the foreground. The mix is what it is, but there are solid points for a decent range and an agreeable dialogue track. There are no bonus features available other than a static menu, with two options to proceed into the feature. Don’t know why. The DVD art from SMG is a gorgeous illustration of the titular character that’s sexy, raw, and retro. “Girl Number Three” has grindhouse bones and director Herschel Zahnd fractures conventional storytelling with a notable plot twist, but Max and her cobwebbed axe doesn’t just rack up a body count as the intertwinement of the person and the instrument of destruction only eviscerates temporary contentment waned much more cognition.