Girl on the Third Floor
Directed by: Travis Stevens
Run time: 93 minutes
The Lowdown: Phil Brooks, aka famed professional wrestler/MMA fighter C.M. Punk, who had a brief cameo in the Soska Sisters’ Rabid, gets his first leading role in Girl on the Third Floor, the debut feature from Travis Stevens, a longtime genre cinema producer.
The major problem with Girl on the Third Floor is not Brooks’ acting; it’s that his character, Don Koch, is so thoroughly unlikeable that viewers can never forge any kind of connection to him or his plight.
The premise is pretty simple: Koch decides to forego hiring a professional to renovate the three-story home that he has purchased for himself and his pregnant wife, Liz (Trieste Kelly Dunn), and as he settles into the residence to begin repairs, it’s clear that Koch has zero desire to do the work right.
More problematic, at least for him, is that all of his bad urges – to drink and to fool around – come roaring back as soon as he is on his own. With barely a thought as to the consequences, Koch hooks up with his new neighbor, Sarah (Sarah Yates), who mysteriously appears and disappears without warning, always at the worst possible times. If you think there’s more to her than she lets on, well, duh.
Even as other people try to help him, including a local female pastor, and one of Liz’s best friends, Milo (Travis Delgado), Koch plows head-on into dangerous behavior with nary a second thought.
There’s also a subplot involving Koch’s past career where he did a huge disservice to his clients that isn’t fleshed out enough early on to make much sense.
By the time people start dying and Liz shows up to check on her husband’s progress, Girl on the Third Floor has yet to coalesce its narrative to allow for any build-up of tension or viewer anticipation at what’s to come.
The unfortunate reality is that for all of its impressive practical effects in the gore-heavy third act, Girl on the Third Floor simply doesn’t earn your rapt attention or your positive word-of-mouth recommendation.
Stevens doesn’t do enough to distinguish the ghostly inhabitants of the house and he fails to set any rules for how those ghosts operate or even explain why they appear as individuals to some, like Milo, and en masse as a big group to Liz.
Even if Stevens had fixed those relevant issues, the fact remains that it’s virtually impossible to champion a lead character like Koch because he knows he is a total fuck-up and does absolutely nothing to try and break that mold.
Despite early buzz, BVB is sad to report that this is one house you should avoid unless there’s absolutely nothing else to watch.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – Yes.
Gore – Yes.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – When is an anti-hero actually the villain? In this film.
Buy/Rent – Rent it.
Wrinkles the Clown (Magnet Releasing, 75 minutes, Unrated, DVD): The utterly unsettling horror documentary, Wrinkles the Clown, joins an impressive list of recent clown-centric scary movies in the past couple of years that have fully revived our collective fascination and fear with people in greasepaint.
Wrinkles purports to be based on a viral YouTube video with the hashtag, HaveUSeenWrinkles, that shows a young child in a trundle bed while an adult clown slowly climbs out of the bottom portion, wakes the kid up and scares the shit out of her.
It’s honestly nightmare fuel of the highest order.
The documentary goes on to detail how Wrinkles became such a viral phenomenon that parents would call a phone number and invite the clown over to scare their children for misbehaving.
As it turns out, Wrinkles is actually a retiree in Florida who decided to try and make some extra cash. Of course he’s from Florida, because why not. And he honestly believes that he’s providing a valid “behavioral service,” as he puts it.
Director Michael Beach Nichols has the brilliant idea never to show Wrinkles’ face outside of the garish mask that he wears, which only serves to throw gas on the fire of your fears.
Wrinkles could literally be anyone – your neighbor, your former co-worker, hell, even your grandfather. You just do not know.
More so, Nichols intersperses his documentary with short vignettes where he gets the real Wrinkles to act out crazy theories that some children have cooked up.
Wrinkles the Clown is a fascinating expose on our current fascination with fear, and a legitimately scary deep-dive into how such new urban legends are born and propagated by way of the world-wide-web.
Now on Video-on-Demand:
Bloodhound (High Octane Pictures, 69 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): Bloodhound may well be the first, and possibly only, private detective thriller to use found footage as its means of telling what’s essentially a thin mystery with a so-so twist. I wish it was better, I really do.
Agent Jade Black (High Octane Pictures, 101 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): You’ve got a government assassin (Katie Burgess) who pouts and blatantly disrespects every senior officer and official order she receives.
You’ve got a bad guy who looks like Justin Bieber after he first grew facial hair.
And you’ve got a director releasing his third direct-to-VOD feature film in less than a year.
Agent Jade Black makes Andy Sidaris look like fucking John Woo in comparison, and I actually liked many of Sidaris’ campy action films in the 1980s.