*Sighs* Why do I keep doing this to myself time and again? I feel like each time I subject myself, it gets just a little bit more painful. The third and final(!) installment of this trilogy of so-called “erotic romance dramas” was released in theaters around the world on February 9th, 2018. Yet again, it was essentially slaughtered by film critics everywhere, but now that seems to have finally had some sort of impact on its financial prospects. Over the totality of its theatrical run, the film grossed just about $371 million at the box office, officially becoming the lowest-grossing entry in the saga. People finally seem to be learning from previous mistakes. Once again directed by James Foley, the film, based upon the novel of the same by E.L. James- which, mind you, started out as Twilight fanfiction -was shot back-to-back with the second entry in the series. Foley, who also helmed the 1992 drama Glengarry Glen Ross, replaces Sam Taylor-Johnson after having a number of disagreements with the author. Also worth noting is that the final two films were written by James’ husband, Niall Leonard, virtually giving her more creative control over the final product. Picking up not too long after the seemingly inconsequential events of the second film Fifty Shades Darker, billionaire entrepreneur Christian Grey and his girlfriend Anastasia Steele have now gone full tilt in their “romance.” They marry and try to adapt to a newfound life together while still sharing all the luxury and BDSM type of love. But now they’re confronted by a number of shady people from their past who want to try and tear apart their relationship. You know, there was a very real (albeit small) part of me that actually held an inkling of hope that this franchise would get a decent conclusion of sorts. I had already been far too optimistic in the past with my expectations from the Fifty Shades films, but still. And yet, just as with the previous two, any shred of hope that I had was completely eviscerated just in the first few scenes of Fifty Shades Freed. I dare say that this one is the worst out of the three films, which is honestly really saying something. I legitimately can’t remember the last time I watched a movie that seemed so utterly indifferent to the cultural climate that it was being released in. Granted, Christian Grey was already a gross, creepy man way before the #MeToo movement. But the fact this movie, and the book upon which it was based, continues to shamelessly glamorize his toxic and abusive relationship with Anastasia after all the revealing stories from the entertainment industry came out isn’t only terrible timing; it’s potentially dangerous. There are (Unfortunately) many women out there who genuinely like these movies, and condoning Grey’s disgusting behavior in 2018 of all years is both terrifying and upsetting. At this point, it’s very clear that the stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are both done with this saga like the rest of us. The two of them continue to be completely devoid of any chemistry as they attempt to chug through some truly atrocious lines and actions. Their characters are still completely incompatible with one another, despite all of the time they’ve spent together. As for any of the side characters… I can hardly remember any of their names because they’re basically all 100% useless. Even just from a technical point of view, Fifty Shades Freed is such a surprisingly incompetent picture. John Schwartzman does his best to make the film visually appealing with beautiful people and locations. However, despite all the sleek colors and luxurious settings, it isn’t very hard at all to make something really awful look decent. The film is also edited by Debra Neil-Fisher and Richard Frances-Bruce in such a way that makes any friction or heat totally dull. The scenes are never cut together in a satisfying manner, especially one laughable flashback sequence early on in the film. One has to imagine what that looked like in the screenplay. Despite being rated-R, I guarantee you that being cut into a PG-13 rating or even lower wouldn’t affect the movie in the slightest in terms of plot or character development. Sadly, even the music is tired and dumb. In the previous two installments, the soundtracks, at the bare minimum gave us some original songs that were somewhat catchy. Whether it was The Weekend’s Oscar-nominated “Earned It” in the first or Taylor Swift and Zayn Malik’s collaboration “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” they at least tried to make the experience okay to the ears. Here, the best they can do is a lame ballad called “For You” by Rita Ora, who also has a role in the film. The best it does is diminish the sexiness (Re: creepiness) of the love scenes into softcore porn for girls; without them, there’d probably be an Unrated or NC-17 cut. But they’ve gotta try and get as many seats as possible filled in the theater, I guess, so whatever. I will be genuinely shocked if there is a worse film released this year. The more I think about it, the angrier I become at its success and mere existence. I really hope that all of the parties involved can bounce back in recovery as they find better projects to work from in the future. In the meantime, Fifty Shades Freed is nothing if not an obligatory conclusion to an affectless, toxic franchise. I can somewhat see how some see this series as a kinky fantasy, but there’s no way in hell any of its tone deaf elements work for me. But I’m just glad that it’s FINALLY OVER!!! All there is to do now is wait for the next obnoxious romance saga to hit screens soon.