Top critical review
Even a third installment can't revive this flagging franchise
on 5 May 2014
In the grand order of cinema, you would be hard-pressed to find a third film in a series which is on a par with the proceeding two entries. Fortunately for Cruel Intentions 3, it doesn't have too hard to work, given that part 2 was absolutely dire.
What we have in part 3 is essentially a TV movie for young adults that could be played on any network at any time; censor some brief sex scenes and a one-line reference to the first film and you have a film that has no other reason for existing except to fill up some space in a box set or a rental store bargain bin (coincidentally where I brought my copy).
That said though, there are elements of 3 that I preferred over the abomination of "Manchester Prep". For a start, some of the lead characters are more convincingly acted than their predecessors. Kristina Anapau managed to channel the seductive qualities of Sarah Michelle Gellar from the first film, but also hold her own ground against more established stars like Kerr Smith and Charlie Weber. Smith himself, whilst not up to the devious standards of Ryan Phillipe from the original, gives a reasonably smooth performance, perhaps suggesting someone who spent about an hour learning lines each day before exploring the sun-drenched locale he was going to be filmed in. Nathan Wetherington puts more effort into his role, a despicable creep who gets his just desserts by the end of the film, yet the other characters are such non-entities that you shouldn't be surprised if, by the end of the first act, you have forgotten all their names.
The plot is the usual Cruel Intentions territory of seduction, lust, betrayal and deviousness, but it's hidden under such a layer of faux-teen angst that at certain points I was wandering whether I was watching a TV movie or a relationships self-help video. It's a film worth investigating only if you are keen to rid yourself of the bitter taste of Cruel Intentions 2 or you are a film student looking at declining sequel qualities.