3 Lives is a powerful film with an important story to tell. It explores the damaging effects of sexual assault on the victim, so much so that even if they move on with their lives, their mind can’t handle the trauma. With terrific performances from our three main characters, this film tackles a horrible subject with tact and gives the victim a voice.
Sexual assault is a difficult thing to put on film. Many people do not want to be confronted by it, and because of that many victims have a hard time seeking help. The balance needed to show how damaging it is without being exploitative or used for shock value is a fine line. The mere suggestion of the word rape makes me cringe, having been one of the unfortunate statistics, but talking about it is so much better and healthier than silence.
Synopsis: Emma wakes up to find herself trapped in an abandoned bunker. She soon realizes that there are two other victims trapped with her, Ben and Jamie who she knows from her days in high school. Now, these two men are Emma’s only means of escape from their savage captors, three ex-soldiers. Emma is faced with an awful choice; to stay in the bunker or to escape her kidnappers with the help of a person who hurt her badly in the past.
In 3 Lives we follow the story of Emma (Mhairi Calvey) in one of the worst scenarios possible: She has been kidnapped and is being held in a cage somewhere underground. At this point, we don’t know why or who, just that she is trapped.
In the next scene, the film goes back a bit, showing that Emma is a therapist, listening to a young girl named Jo (Maja-Celine Probst) talk about being raped. The story is sadly accurate on how these conversations can go. You tell someone and they say to let it go, you just gave them the wrong impression. It’s not right, but what can you do? She suggests archery to Jo, to get past the anger because recently the girl attacked her rapist and she is in trouble. Jo notices that Emma has a scar that she touches from time to time. When she asks about it, Emma announces their session is over. At that point, we know that there is some deep-seated trauma still inside Emma.
Back in the underground bunker, there are two more captives. Jamie (Martin Kaps) and Ben (Tyron Ricketts) are also there and figuring out a way to escape. When they hear a woman scream, they work hard to get free and find her. To all their surprise, they know each other; Jamie was a school mate and Ben is the person convicted of raping her in high school. Fearfully she accepts help and they get out of the bunker and run into the forest beyond. The biggest concern they have other than escaping was the question that jumped out at each of them. Why were they kidnapped in the first place? Why them?
I must admit that something always seemed a bit off about the situation. There had to be more going on than was apparent. At some points the plot was predictable, and I wasn’t a fan of the soldiers. Their characters seemed a bit contrived.
Escaping was too easy, yet the soldiers were incredibly brutal, but never really explained why they were there. The twist to this story comes later, (it’s a good one) and the feeling I had is eventually validated by the truth. In the meantime, they are chased, caught, get away again, fight amongst each other, and finally discover who can really be trusted.
Severe trauma often causes the mind to split, the assault so horrible that a person’s rational mind can’t handle it. PTSD can cause a person to do many irrational things. Mhairi Calvey was very believable as a traumatized woman. Her fear and reactions to the two men was so real! Both Kaps and Ricketts were fantastic too. The chemistry between the three of them in survival mode, not knowing who of them to trust was very compelling. A terrible secret has been kept for 15 years, and it is a relief when we finally understand what really happened. I was very satisfied with the ending. The surprise really validated everything that was happening and suddenly, things made sense!
Juliane Block co-wrote and directed the impressively unflinching and brutal tale. I feel like she did a terrific job showing how damaging sexual assault is and how vengeance can be the only solution a damaged soul can imagine. No matter what happens in the film- the bottom line is the ultimate horror is being raped!
The nail-biting 3 Lives premieres on DVD and Digital on August 6th from High Octane Pictures.
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