The resurgence of 3D technology to “enhance” films has been the subject of much debate over the past few years. Given the number of films that have been released under the 3D banner, it’s fair to say that the advanced technology has ignited a spark within movie studios and in the general public who have been yearning for the next best thing. Given the price of 3D cameras, many filmmakers and studios saw the route of “post conversion” as a valuable means to release their film under the popular banner; even if it negatively affected the quality of the film. In 2009, the movie-making gimmick was taken seriously when James Cameron released Avatar. Finally, the technology and its overall effect seemed to actually enhance the viewing experience. Cameron was able to create “the window effect” where the film accents the depth of field within the movie screen. Since Avatar, not many films have struck me as using this concept of looking through a window efficiently. This is one of the reasons why I applaud what director P.J. Pettiette and cinematographer Jason Goodman were able to achieve with Julia X 3D. The two of them have made an independent feature film fully shot using the 3D technology that is typically found only in larger-budget Hollywood films. Not only that, but Julia X 3D is a gorgeous example of how a 3D film can stand head and shoulders above its “post-conversion” Hollywood rivals.
Kevin Sorbo plays a nameless serial-killing stranger on the prowl for his next victim. Unfortunately for him he meets the wrong girl with Julia. Her seemingly innocent looks and pretty face disguise a woman that rivals the viciousness and mental sanity of her new stalker. What follows is a cat and mouse game that is even further escalated when Julia’s sister Jessica enters the picture.
On the surface, Julia X is a brutal horror film that uses hammers, barb-wire, and knives, to exert its thrills and blood. However, that is ignoring the screwball comedy aspect of the film that kicks into gear later on in the film. This fun storytelling approach is only accented by the effective 3D. In the first third of the film, Pettiette sets up the slash and stalk relationship rather quickly through a series of chases through beautifully staged set-pieces. A warehouse, an abandoned school, and a Louisiana swamp are the stages for some great-looking 3D scenery and some tense thrills. The final two-thirds ramp up the humor a little more as the film’ s cast of characters increases to include Julia’s sister and the wonderfully funny Joel David Moore. Can that man do anything wrong? This carefree, dark romance that becomes apparent by the end of the film, may not be for everyone. Unfortunately, the comedy doesn’t always work and the characters resolve to saying, “Fuck you!” to each other too often. When all is said and done, this is a minor complaint in an otherwise well-balanced blend of Hard Candy and campy horror.
In what can be seen as art imitating life, Julia turns the tables on our killer in the film much like how Kevin Sorbo has surprised fans who have come to know him as the hero on Hercules and Andromeda. Sorbo delivers an effortless evil performance that makes you wonder why he hasn’t stepped into these bloody shoes before. Julia X is a film that is best viewed with the addition of 3D. It’s not a gimmick when the filmmakers use it to enhance the story or style of the film. Director P.J. Pettiette knows this and exceeds expectations by delivering one of the most entertaining 3D experiences of the year. Julia X may not be the smartest girl in her class, but she has some of the sharpest tools and she promises a night full of fun.