A direct to video film about rape geared towards… who, exactly?
by Adam Miller
If you've already read my Cruel Intentions 2 review you know I was none too impressed with the film. It was a meandering sequel with not much oomph worth thinking about. It's sequel, however, is another story.
I first watched CRUEL INTENTIONS 3 while on prescription drugs and admit I had no idea what was going on. For some reason I thought the entire film took place on a boat. It does not. Rather, it takes place at some fictitious California university which we know is somewhere in the vicinity of Carmel. Attending this school are Jason and Cassidy, the analogs of Sebastian and Katherine of the original film. How do I know they're analogs? Well, because they say so. Explicitly. In the first 5 minutes.
Anyway Jason is rooming with a "loser" of a roommate named Patrick (I can sympathize) who hacks and coughs all about the place. Meanwhile Caddidy is trying to shack up with some British guy so she can then hook up with Prince William which makes perfect sense. Jason makes Cassidy a $10,000 bet that British guy will spurn her blatant, booby advances but WAIT he goes double or nothing by betting another 10k that she can't even hook up with Patrick! Now, if you've seen or even heard anything about CRUEL INTENTIONS (which apparently Cassidy has not) you would know that there's a scam lurking around.
Indeed, there is, after Cassidy fucks (sorry folks, but that is the only appropriate verb for the deed) Patrick we find out that HAHA it was really a trick set up by Patrick in cahoots with Jason just so that he can shag Cassidy. Nice one! Patrick we learn is just like Jason, another guy who lives only to have sex with girls.
Now while CRUEL INTENTIONS told something of a redemption story as Sebastian tries to reform from his deceitful ways, CR3 sets up a competition: who can be the most sleazy among the two men? That's what it thinks the premise is, at least. In my humble opinion, CR3 is in fact a thought provoking, if not thoughtful, meditation on our society's definition of rape.
So the rest of this review is simply my analysis of IS IT or IS IT NOT rape?
Patrick's intercourse with Cassidy? Well, obviously there was quite a bit of deceit going on. Patrick is not who Cassidy thought he was but then she was equally using him for $10k. For the sake of argument, let's say that this is not rape.
As the plot advances, Cassidy gets Patrick and Jason to compete. Patrick must have sex with a young woman, Alison, who is engaged to her beau back home. Jason meanwhile must seduce Sheila (nice) who's steady boyfriend also attends the school. First to score wins!
Jason seems to be more succesful early on. He gets Sheila away from her BF by taking his place on school field trip (wha?) and in the hotel room he makes Sheila a deal: coin toss for who is "master" and who is "slave." Creeped out? Much, Sheila at least once explicitly says "No" but this is before any physical contact has begun. Jason then convinces her to the coin toss, she wins, and makes herself slave (and the feminist in me winces). Jason proceeds to give her oral pleasure while forcing her to call her boyfriend on the cell phone. It's pretty cruel (hence the title, I suppose) but is it rape? Does the timing of her utterance of "No" come into account? You decide.
There is, however, no question that Patrick commits rape. After trying every trick (including blackmail) to get Alison to sleep with him he finally grabs her by the neck and forces her to have sex with him. I suppose the awfulness of this scene is supposed to make us forget Jason's completely disgusting behavior. The last laugh, of course, is on Patrick who Cassidy and Jason eventually trick into fake raping Cassidy and oh my goodness we're off the deep end. Patrick ends up in cuffs, life goes on.
So what to make of this? I can't help but feel Patrick's blatant assault of Alison is set up as a scapegoat to cover for pretty-boy Jason's evil deeds. But is this a good message? While Jason isn't particularly valorized for his behavior, the message of the film seems clear: "At least he's no Patrick!" I find this highly problematic and dangerous if the intended audience is really late teenagers, but if I distance myself I can at least acknowledge the film- bad as it is- forces me to ask those kinds of questions. Where do I draw the line between rape and consent? Where does the law? I would hope to never behave in anyway remarkably close to Jason or Patrick, but it's an ever important reminder that there are miles of shades of gray with the question of what is "appropriate sexual behavior."
Oh, and it's a terrible movie.