The Grudge 3 (2009)


Alright, let’s get one thing out of the way before we move on into this review.  If you didn’t like The Grudge or its sequel, then there is absolutely nothing in The Grudge 3 for you.  It brings nothing new to the table that would convert you to the series, nor is it particularly scary by any means.  It’s a harmless sequel that exists solely to cash in on a once popular subgenre in America that has thankfully begun to fade into obscurity.
People can say what they want about the first American Grudge movie, but in all honesty I thought it was a fun, scary way to knock off a few hours.  It’s sequel was arguably not the greatest way to carry on the story, but I still felt it had enough strengths to keep it from being bogged down by the negatives.  Now Ghost House brings us this straight to video sequel that I was actually looking forward to.  The two Boogeyman sequels were leaps and bounds better than their theatrical predecessor (which wasn’t exactly a hard feat to accomplish) and the man behind the camera, Toby Wilkins, gave us the impressive creature opus Splinter.  So what went wrong?

First off is the setting.  We’re again taken to the apartment building from the second film that has now become cursed with the ghosts of Kayoko and her family.  This time around the main target is the apartment manager, his teen sister, and their younger, ailing sister.  While I thought the dingy building worked quite well in the previous film in creating a chilling atmosphere, here the corridors and hallways are lit like they’re on the fucking sun.  Nothing about bright yellow walls screams haunted house movie to me.  I agree that we needed to switch locations away from the house in Japan, but the production designer really fucked up a good opportunity. 

Although this is the first film in the series to garner an R rating, you wouldn’t really know it.  With the exception of a stabbing towards the third act’s climax, there’s hardly a drop of blood or a frightening ghost attack to be found.  Had they not said “fuck’ more than once I would have questioned the rating all together.  That’s not to say that I believe every film should have gallons of blood doused across the screen, but when you have a ghost movie that’s not the least bit scary, give me some reason for watching it.  And speaking of the stabbing at the end, can we discuss for a moment the ridiculousness that resulted from that…AKA a new ghost flopping down the hallway like she was having an epileptic seizure.  Seriously, who thought that was a good idea?  The look of the ghosts was also a big misfire.  In the other movies they were pale white, but here they look like they were dipped in nitro glycerin.  Not good when the majority of your surroundings are the aforementioned brightly lit, yellow walls.

One of the most surprisingly positive aspects of the film was that it was very well acted.  The most notable name here is Shawnee Smith, who gives a strong, albeit brief, performance as a doctor of one of the characters from the second film.  Despite the material, she always comes off well.  In the lead role as the teen sister Lisa is Johanna Braddy from tv’s Greek.  She has a very natural, everyday girl look to her that brought a sense of relatability to a character who walked a fine line between subdued teenager and neurotic bitch.  Gil McKinney as  the brother, Max, was equally as adequate with balancing his struggling character and his descent into possession.

I have mixed feeling about Wilkins’s directing job.  Some scenes showed a true talent behind the camera, while others were flat and uninteresting.  The movie, as a whole, just felt like it needed a Red Bull to liven it up a bit.  Shawnee Smith’s chase scene in the hospital was one of the stronger moments and had the rest of the movie comprised of that energy then this could have been a fun little movie.  I probably can’t put all the blame on him because on Splinter I’m sure he had a lot more creative control over what we saw on screen.  When you’re dealing with the studio system you never know what they’ll do to a film after you shoot it, or what pressures they’ll put on you during production

There’s nothing new here that we haven’t seen in the previous films, only this time it’s done less effectively.  The movie harmlessly exists within its own mediocrity.  It could have been much better, but then again it could have been much worse.
There’s nothing new here that we haven’t seen in the previous films, only this time it’s done less effectively. The movie harmlessly exists within its own mediocrity. It could have been much better, but then again it could have been much worse.