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Fantastic Fest 2011: 'Julia X' Movie Review


Here's a horror film in which a serial killer kidnaps a beautiful woman, only to learn (the hard way) that she's actually a serial killer herself. And a pretty damn good one, too. If that one little nugget of a premise sounds outrageous to you, then you'll probably have a ball with P.J. Pettiette's debut effort Julia X. If you're expecting much more than that, I'm sorry to report that this allegedly comedic horror film offers little aside from that one meager hook.

OK, actually the beautiful woman serial killer also has a gorgeous younger sister. She, too, is a murderer. A rather enthusiastic one. Plus the guy playing the male third of this psychopathic triangle is none other than Kevin Sorbo.

A friend of mine, one who enjoyed Julia X quite a bit more than I did, called it a live-action version of "Itchy & Scratchy," and I found that an amusing comparison -- except that those hyper-violent Simpsons characters are actually lampooning the childish violence of Saturday morning cartoons, whereas Julia X is mocking... nothing. I'm not sure what's funny about (repeatedly) punching a woman in the face with a chain-wrapped fist, or shoving her face (repeatedly) into a bookshelf, but I guess Mr. Pettiette got a good deal on stuntwomen who look a lot like his lovely leading ladies -- and he was intent on making those stuntwomen earn their paychecks. 

As played by Valerie Azlynn and Alicia Willis, the psycho chicks are cute, bloodthirsty airheads. The flick wedges some truly unnecessary (and tasteless) flashbacks into the equation in an effort to flesh out the gals' backstory, but it's a perfunctory one about a very abusive father that adds nothing to the film. (Except perhaps some valuable running time and a tonal disconnect that does not go well with the main story.) And the main story is this: two beautiful blondes and Kevin Sorbo knocking the silly crap out of one another for a good 45 minutes. At one point Joel David Moore pops up, whines a bit, earns a laugh or two opposite Mr. Sorbo, and then vanishes. So basically we have an belabored slapstick horror story in which three wholly unlikable jerks tie each other down and then try to murder each other. Repeatedly. Redundantly. Endlessly.

Sorbo, now a dead ringer for Airplane! star Robert Hays, displays a weird, sometimes entertaining energy as a cocksure psycho in the flick's early going, and each of the leading lady killers has a few moments of enjoyable silliness, but they're working in service of a formless and progressively irritating story that goes nowhere and does it loudly. Repetitive, frustrating, and broadly violent in a simplistic and cartoonish fashion, Julia X is a broad horror / goofy comedy amalgam that would have been better served by focusing on either one or the other.

Oh, and it's in 3D. Not sure why.