The mental trappings of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, better known as OCD, can be extremely debilitating to anyone who suffers from the condition. Writer/director Elwood Quincy Walker explores its most horrific extreme in the highly sophisticated horror short The Rule of Three.
Hannah Barefoot plays Aly, an OCD patient whose psychiatrist recommends she somehow break her pattern of doing things three times. She follows his suggestion when she gets home, only to find her home invaded by three sadistic killers in creepy masks. Ultimately, she must rely on her inner strength to make it out alive or die at the hands of her attackers.
Essentially, Walker has transformed the template of The Strangers into a brilliant metaphor for a mind consumed by obsessive-compulsive actions. As soon as Aly fails to adhere to her ritual, things go frighteningly wrong, begging the question of whether this would be happening at all if she had just stuck to her rule of three. Rather than simple joy killers, they represent the superstition that surrounds her life. It’s a highly original take on a genre rife with low-grade torture porn imitators.
“…she gets home, only to find her home invaded by three sadistic killers in creepy masks.”
Walker maintains the claustrophobic atmosphere with tight shots, while his truly chilling villains add suspense. Their masks are genuinely frightening, and their movements around the house are disturbing reminders of all the horrors that lurk in the shadows, not just in the world around us but in our minds as well. There’s gore and blood, but not so much that it overpowers the film’s message, which is really the point of the whole thing.
Barefoot’s performance is spot-on, fragile with an underlying inner strength she’s struggling to summon. Emily Joy Lemus, Trenton Whittaker, and Daisy Micklich play the killers as primal, instinctual beings, their movements and cold demeanor so inhuman. Finally, James Warfield, whose slimy persona dominated Walker’s previous short Kissed, does a complete 180, showing a tenderness and real concern for his patient as Doctor Torrance.
Collectively, Walker’s work reveals a true talent who not only understands and loves horror but knows how to push it in other directions to keep it fresh and engaging. If The Rule of Three is any indication, he’s well on his way to a lucrative career in filmmaking.
"…Walker has transformed the template of The Strangers into a brilliant metaphor..."