Starring: John Hennigan, Michelle Taylor, Eric Etebari & Joseph Gatt
Directed by: Steven LaMorte
Rick Rainsford is trapped on a deserted island with his reluctant companion, Anna. While attempting to save another gravely injured survivor they find themselves hunted by Zaroff, a sociopathic ex-KGB Agent long with his partner Ivan. In spite of their differences Rick and Anna must work together to disarm Zaroff’s deadly traps, survive his assistant’s brutal attacks, and escape the island alive.
3 Hours Until Dead (or Never Leave Alive as it is known in the United States) is a film where the concept is very good, having taken inspiration from classic stories of man hunting man such as The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell, or even the Jean Claude Van Damme film Hard Target, in putting its heroes in a deadly fight for survival.
Unfortunately, the execution of this concept is never anything above average, with a plot that feels fairly stale and uneventful, and a cast of actors who are never anything above mediocre.
John Hennigan certainly looks the part as Rick Rainsford, the reality television star and celebrity hunter, his huge physique and flowing hair certainly making him stand out as heroic, particularly in the films final act. Unfortunately, the former WWE star is no leading man. Yes, he has the fight training to fall back on, and even has a history of parkour, but his ability to lead a film falls short of what is needed here.
He is able to portray the swagger and pigheadedness of a television celebrity who feels that the world should be revolving around him, but once it’s time for him to step up and be the hero he can’t quite manage to pull it off. Sadly, he doesn’t even get the chance to show of his physical abilities as the film doesn’t really make use of his skill set in the action sequences, with many of the films fight sequences feeling quite dull and slow paced. These problems are even more apparent as his character has to go from an un-likeable drunk, to someone we’re rooting for; a task that feels beyond him with his limited acting abilities and poor scripting choices.
An easy solution to a main star who isn’t quite up to the task of leading the movie would be to make sure that the other actors around them are much stronger, using them to elevate their acting.
Whilst Michelle Taylor appear to be competent enough an actress, the script doesn’t seem to know what to do with her character of Anna. One moment she’s Rick’s equal, with skills and a drive to survive, the next she’s a shrieking damsel in distress who needs Rick to rescue her. Combined with a ‘mysterious past’ and she feels more like multiple character archetypes all rolled into one part with no coherent character or personality.
Sadly, not even the villains get to be more than standard two dimensional tropes. Eric Etebari plays Zaroff (a clear nod to General Zaroff in The Most Dangerous Game), the former Russian Colonel living on his own private island with his assistant Ivan, played by Joseph Gatt (and yes, this is another thing taken from the original story).
Despite some hints that Zaroff has a shady past that involves war crimes, why he is on the island, how he came to know about Rick and his plans, how he sunk a ship, and how he got Rick onto his island after he was thrown into the sea by an explosion all seem to be secondary concerns to the writer and director, who seem feel that any form of explanation would bog down the action.
Zaroff, and Ivan, barely manage to be more than template villains, with Ivan being the only character in the film to show any level of development (though the reasons for his change of heart are never explored).
The film should feel a lot more exciting than it does, and should be fairly faced paced, but Zaroff never feels like much of a threat, and Rick and Anna have a lot a quite moments in the wilderness to just sit and chat, something that you probably shouldn’t do when you’re being hunted. The lack of any real urgency lets the film down a lot, as there never feels like there’s any tension or danger for the main characters.
3 Hours Until Dead has a solid idea at its foundation (albeit one it did not come up with itself) but never succeeds in living up to it. With a cast of actors who are never anything more than average, the film lacks any real excitement or sense of danger. Whilst not an awful film, it’s not something that it going to stand out or even stick in your memory after viewing.
Unless you’re a huge fan of any of the cast there’s not much here to draw you in to watch, unless it’s the only thing on television that night, in which case there are worse ways to spend 90 minutes.
3 Hours Until Dead is now out on VOD from Left Films.