Reviewed by Heather Wixson
Starring Matthew Knight, Shawnee Smith, Gil McKinney, Johanna E. Braddy, Jadie Hobson
Directed by Toby Wilkins
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Truth be told, The Grudge 3 was a sequel that I had no desire to see happen. The first Grudge film was little more than decent (this was before theaters were getting slammed regularly with Asian remakes) and its follow-up felt pretty flat and forced to me. Needless to say I’m not a huge fan of the American entries in this franchise.
That being said, the third installment of The Grudge actually exceeded my expectations mainly because everyone involved did a great job of bringing the mythology of Kayako full circle. A lot of this was due to Brad Keene’s script (which follows the spirit of Takashi Shimizu’s work in the Japanese originals) as well as the sharp direction of Toby Wilkins.
For The Grudge 3, we pick up right where part two left off. We’re back in the Chicago apartment building where Kayako’s curse of anger followed an American who had the misfortune of getting it as a souvenir while in Japan. Someone had to clean up the sinister spirit’s bloody mess and that’s exactly what the building’s landlord Max (McKinney) is expected to do. Too bad he has enough of his own problems beyond a structure full of dead bodies. He’s been looking after his sick little sister Rose (Hobson) and his other sister Lisa (Braddy) is just about to say goodbye to the Midwest and relocate to New York with her boyfriend, thus leaving poor Max holding the bag so-to-speak.
True to horror convention, the youngster is the first to pick up on the supernatural happenings in the building as Rose starts seeing a strange little boy haunting the halls. Enter a young Japanese woman named Naoko (Emi Ikehata) who has just arrived from Japan to rent a room in the now cursed dwelling. Coincidence? Are you kidding? This is a horror movie! It turns out Naoko just might know how to deal with the evil that has taken up residence here in old Chi-town. It’s now up to her and the others to figure out how to finally put the curse to rest before it’s too late and they become the latest set of Kayako’s victims.
The Grudge 3 doesn’t so anything profoundly groundbreaking here, and it really doesn’t need to. When it comes to the scares it’s easily on par with the first two films. Things do get kicked it up a notch within the last thirty-minutes though, and that’s what made the film for me. The gore and the violence clearly went beyond anything attempted in the first two films. Had The Grudge 3 played it as safe as its predecessors and not dared to be a little bolder, this would have been a far more disappointing experience.
Director Wilkins (Splinter) does a noble job of creating a world that still stays true to the spirit of Shimizu’s work and yet, feels like it is his own vision. The core family here of Max, Lisa and Rose are without question the heart of the project, and they were all compelling to watch. Not once was the impression given that these were actors just pretending to be a family — everyone had great chemistry together, and that really helped to sell things.
In terms of DVD extras, there’s not much. We get two short featurettes — The Curse Continues which talks about the challenges of bringing this third chapter to life, and then there’s the strangely named Tokyahoaria which focuses on what it took to bring both Tokyo and Chicago to life in Bulgaria. Add on several deleted scenes and that’s a wrap!
The Grudge 3 isn’t perfect, and sometimes the film feels like it’s trying a little too hard to emulate Shimizu’s work. Ultimately though, the third act remedies most of the film’s short-comings and left me feeling like the series had finally come to a satisfying resolution. That is until the inevitable sequel slithers our way!
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
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