There are a few things that Cruel Intentions 3 does better than its predecessors. First off, it actually has actors who look their age. These are all college students, not high schoolers who appear and act like they’re 25. Second, its plot is actually kind of complex, even though it’s way more convoluted than it has a right to be. Finally, it isn’t telling the same story over again, which is always a plus.
Once again, there are three main characters. This time, they’re all equals, or at least, they think they’re all equals. We spend the most time with Jason (Kerr Smith), probably because he’s handsome and not completely creepy. Next is Patrick (Nathan Wetherington), the man who ends up being Jason’s roommate. Finally, we have Cassidy (Kristina Anapau), a woman who had a previous relationship with Jason, and who happens to be the cousin of Kathryn from the previous two Cruel Intentions films.
Apart from the character link, there’s not much else that the films have in common. Oh, there’s also the fact that all three characters are masters of manipulation, a common theme among every film in the series, but if you’re expecting a bunch of character mentions or even cameos, you’re going to be disappointed. All of the relation to the previous films is taken care of after the first ten minutes, which I think was a good choice. If we’re constantly being reminded of the first (better) film, it’s going to be hard to enjoy this one.
Once the plot gets rolling, it ends up something like this: The two men make a bet with one another to see who can seduce their target first, and Cassidy sits back and waits. That’s really as simple as it gets, although there is a lot of backstabbing and relationship drama thrown into the middle. It also takes a while for this main plot to get going, as the film is actually interested in establishing its characters. I mean, it doesn’t do that particularly well, but at least the effort is there.
Eventually, Cruel Intentions 3 actually lives up to its name and gets really cruel. I would go so far as to call it “nasty,” to be quite honest with you. While I would hesitate to call any of the characters in this series “nice,” one of the ones in this film makes the others look like angels. Without wanting to spoil much of the latter half of Cruel Intentions 3, let’s just say that what initially seems like playing ends up much worse than that for some people.
I’m not sure if we’re supposed to feel satisfied at the end. We shouldn’t be rooting for any of these characters, not even the seemingly innocent (after the first few scenes) Cassidy. All of them have hidden agendas and plans that they won’t let anyone else in on. But like a well-planned and executed heist, once the film ends and all of the twists have been revealed, it’s hard to not have a smile on your face, even after you come to terms with what it was you just saw, and the implications that it holds.
Granted, this doesn’t actually make the film all that good, and there is certainly a lot to dislike about the production, but the ending, for better or worse, gives you some payoff. And since there’s a decent plot to bring you to the ending, it’s really difficult to not at least think that Cruel Intentions 3 is worth watching, especially if you’ve stuck with the series for this long already.
Okay, onto the bad parts. First, the secondary cast members are drastically underutilized, to the point where it was hard to tell who was doing what at any given time if they weren’t one of our three leads. The film tries to get us to care about a couple of them, but it never works the way that it should due to lack of time and development. Next, the production values are really low, although given that it’s a direct-to-DVD movie, I guess you’re expecting that.
I actually didn’t mind two of the lead actors, Kerr Smith and Kristina Anapau. They were charming enough to be believable, and they had a decent chemistry. Dragging them down was Nathan Wetherington, who was wooden and not at all engaging from start to finish. I was rooting against him from about midway on, not because of his character at that point, but because Wetherington had no charm and no charisma. I couldn’t believe that he had a chance of seducing the women he goes after.
I should mention that this film was probably made only to cash in on the Cruel Intentions name, and that the dialogue at the beginning was only included so that there was a tangential link to the previous films. I’m guessing that the script was written without Cruel Intentions even being thought of, and was changed in hopes of making some money from fans of the franchise. It’s a move that carries with it expectations. Fans of the first film might be disappointed with this one simply because it feels like a cash grab with little relation to the earlier film. I don’t mind this tactic too much, but it’s really obvious here that this film exists pretty much by itself.
Cruel Intentions 3 never becomes unwatchable, and in some areas, it’s actually the best in the series. Overall, it still doesn’t match the first film, but it’s also not unwatchable. If all you want to see is a trio of people going around and seducing other people, you might have a good time, even if it’s all immoral and wrong and all that jazz. There’s actually a decent, albeit overly convoluted, plot this time around, and I did like the payoff that comes from the ending.