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Film Review: Species III (2004)

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SYNOPSIS:

Sara (Sunny Mabrey), the daughter of Eve (Natasha Henstridge) begins her mission to mate with humans, while a specialist military team hunt her down to kill her before its too late.

REVIEW:

Horror movies attempt to tap into the insecurity of viewers.  Outside forces like serial killers and supernatural beings that use a sense of helplessness to get to a person’s psyche.  Another method is to go for the instinctual behavior that makes a character act a certain way, which the audience can relate to.  This second one is the more interesting kind of horror because it means that the victims are partially responsible for the horrific events.  They got themselves into the situation through their own dumb choices.

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A subgenre of self-inflicted horror is a group of horror movies that are metaphors for sexually transmitted diseases.  One of the more popular franchises of this horror type is the Species franchise which was founded on the premise of using sex for scares.  There were aliens involved, but it was sex that led to most of deaths in the franchise.  The first movie was about stopping an alien/human hybrid from reproducing because if the species spread, it would be the death of the human race.  The second movie repeated this concept.  It is a science fiction way of presenting an epidemic that could destroy humanity, making the disease an alien.  With the epidemic spreading through sex, it was the equivalent of a debilitating sexually transmitted disease.

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Species III, released on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2004, and quickly followed by a DVD release, followed the story of the first two without repeating it.  Unlike its predecessors, Species III followed the final days of the disease.  It was more about the destruction of the aliens than preventing them from spreading.  Those two things may seem similar, but there is a large difference between them.  The disease was no longer strong.  It had been weakened.  The alien hybrids were dying throughout the movie.  The third installment was no longer about containment, instead shifting the focus to the future and how to completely remove the aliens from the environment.

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That change in focus does not necessarily mean that Species III was a good movie.  It was a direct-to-video movie from the early 2000s and suffered from many of the issues of similar movies.  The video quality wasn’t great, the performances were less than stellar, and the story was kind of messy.  It began immediately after the second film, giving a recap of the two previous movies, getting a few details wrong.  The opening scene featured Natasha Henstridge who was under contract to be in the third movie.  She died during birth and the movie followed her daughter and the man who took care of her, Dr. Abbot (Robert Knepper).

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The storyline of Species III was a little strange.  While Dr. Abbot was taking care of the alien girl, whose name would become Sara (Savanna Fields for the younger version, Sunny Mabrey for the older version), other alien/human hybrids were trying to find a way to survive.  Their alien half was growing sick from the viruses on Earth and their species was dying out.  They went after Dr. Abbot, his assistant Dean (Robin Dunne), and Sara in order to find a cure.

The hybrids were a representation of a dying disease.  There was a moment early in Species III where characters discussed the end of smallpox, as the disease was scheduled to be completely destroyed in the CDC.  It complemented the realization that the alien hybrids were dying out.  Revelations later in the movie helped to reinforce this theme as the alien species was practically rendered extinct.  The story was the expiration of the species, though another sequel was released.

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Species III was the weakest installment in the series up to that point.  It tried to do something different with the story, and it mostly worked.  However, there were problems in every other aspect.  The acting, direction, and direct-to-video feel of the movie could not support the interesting story extension.  At the base level, there was something interesting in Species III that went wrong in the execution.  It was a watchable movie, but it was bad.

Bonus Features

SPECIES III

    • Audio Commentary With Director Brad Turner, Writer Ben Ripley And Actor Robin Dunne
    • Alien Odyssey: Evolution Featurette
    • Alien Odyssey: Species DNA – Production Design Featurette
    • Alien Odyssey: Alien Technology Featurette
    • Alien Odyssey: Intelligent Lifeforms – Creature Design Featurette
    • Species III: Genesis Featurette
    • Trailer

SPECIES III is now available on dual bluray per Shout Factory

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