DVD REVIEW: 3:33AM / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: DANIEL E. FALICKI / SCREENPLAY: DENIEL E. FALICKI, SHERI BETH DUSEK, ANTHONY E. GRIFFIN / STARRING: MATTHEW DENNIS, SCOTT BAISDEN, CHRIS KOTCHER, SHERI BETH DUSEK, MARY HOWING / RELEASE DATE: TBC
Back in the nineties, C&C Music Factory had a song called Things That Make You Go Hmmm… which is pretty much the feeling 3:33AM leaves you with when it’s finished.
John Spinelli (Dennis) has just left prison. His Parole Officer finds him a room at the Wellhome boarding house, which John isn’t too happy about. “Aren’t the folks that live there kind of retarded?” he asks. “Mentally challenged, John,” the Parole Officer corrects him. But from the moment John steps through the Wellhome front door to be smacked with a litany of rules by the clearly unhinged landlady, then gets bombarded by an assortment of neighbours who are so cartoonishly weird they would make a freak show blush, it’s kind of clear that John’s return to society is not going to go well.
But John’s biggest problem is the creepy broken-down house directly opposite his bedroom window; the house his landlady has her eye on but the others in Wellhome prefer to ignore. It wakes him up at 3:33AM every morning, pulsing a brilliant coloured light like an over-excitable UFO, and then at 3:34 AM the light is gone and the house sits there like nothing happened. Until John discovers his toupe-impaired ex-crime buddy ‘Easy Steve’ just got killed in the house, and was found with a limb removed. And then more people are found dead in the house, equally limb-deficient. And as the corpses pile up, John finds himself tagged as the prime suspect.
If he wants to prove his innocence and uncover the dark secret of the house, John’s going to have to start getting along with his neighbours…
3:33AM is a very strange movie. It’s a horror comedy without the horror and with comedy that – despite a raft of committed performances from almost everyone involved – fails to work on practically every level. The weird characters are supposed to be colourful and off-the-wall but they’re just loud and annoying - if you want creepy neighbours, dig out Rosemary’s Baby, The Sentinel or even the gross fat guy from Alice, Sweet Alice and do it properly, but the super-clichéd assortment of weirdoes in 3.33AM will just make your head ache.
It’s also clear that director Daniel E. Falicki and his co-screenwriters Sheri Beth Dusek and Anthony E. Griffin were beaten by their miniscule budget. Falicki does his best with the camera and manages a respectable number of interesting set-ups in a handful of very confined sets, but there’s way too much unnecessary goofiness and the dialogue-heavy script isn’t as sharp as it thinks it is.
Having said that, DP Todd Lewis does an impressive job with colour filters whenever the creepy house appears outside John’s window, and although none of the cast are particularly outstanding none of them are so bad they’ll make you squirm.
All in all, 3:33AM’s heart is in the right place. Unfortunately, the rest of its body is a car crash.
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