DVD Review: The Grudge 3
The Grudge 3 (2009)
Studio: Sony Pictures / Ghost House Pictures
DVD Release Date: May 12, 2009
Directed By: Toby Wilkins
Cast: Johanna Braddy, Gil McKinney, Emi Ikehata, Jadie Hobson, Beau Mirchoff
Review By: Marc Patterson
Some folks dislike remakes. Me? I’m not a huge fan of sequels. I think I dislike sequels about as much as most horror fans dislike remakes. My opinion is that unless you’re going to come out and truly advance a story, bringing something new to the table, then just don’t bother. Which brings me to the current topic of discussion… Grudge 3. Neither the first nor second film in this so-called franchise did much for me. I certainly wasn’t excited at the prospect of drudging through this third installment. The prospect that the film was under new directorship (Toby Wilkins of Splinter – Review Here) helped matters though. Splinter was a fantastic fright fest and I could only hope The Grudge 3 wouldn’t be the train wreak it inevitably promised to be.
The Grudge 3 picks up right on the heels of the prior film. Jake (Matthew Knight), the only surviving member from part two has been placed in a mental institution, where his doctor (Shawnee Smith) oversees his hopeful recovery. Jake still suffers from disturbing visions and in short order fully manifests the horrors, becoming the next victim of the curse. Dr Sullivan begins investigating the back story on what exactly happened, which leads her to the dilapidated apartment building, still haunted by the ghosts of the past. It is here she meets a young family, who has suffered their own tragedies, and who is next in line for these vengeful spirits to overtake.
There’s no question this film has its faults. We have a young Japanese woman who apparently has the ability to break the curse, (a new concept for this franchise, which up until this point showcased the curse as unbreakable) who while halfway across the world hears about the tragic deaths and is somehow able to connect the dots. How? Who knows, and who cares… This is horror cinema folks. Then we have the building owner who randomly keeps showing up for no other apparent reason than to breath down the back of Max, our struggling apartment manager. Then there’s Max (McKinney) who has the wonderful job of covering up the atrocities that have occurred (and are occurring) and continue to fill apartments, all while trying to tend to his younger sister Rose, who’s struggling from a life threatening disease. Naturally, it’s young Rose who first spots the ghosts, though she’s the last to be threatened by them.
Grudge 3 is top to bottom filled with these overly formulated plot elements that any horror fan worth his or her salt can spot from miles away. Despite this, the film manages to pull off a remarkable feat of being not only watchable, but entertaining, and there were several reasons for this. First is the admirable direction of Toby Wilkins, who again has a fantastic sense for space. Much like we saw in Splinter, Wilkins is able to keep the action focused on minimal locations, settling the bulk of the film into the apartment building. He builds tension through the use of creative camera work as well as the utilization of talented actress Aiko Horiuchi who plays the ghostly Kayako. Horiuchi delivers a heck of a performance, gyrating and twisting her body into a pretzel for our amusement. That’s right folks. No CGI.
Wilkins also intently focuses on a minimal cast, that is for the most part focused on our apartment manager and his two sisters, who become the subject of the Ju-on’s rage. Gil McKinney puts on his best Jack Nicholson, playing the beleaguered manager trying desperately to keep tenants in the building under much duress, though eventually succumbing to the dark forces of the Ju-on. It was both a believable descent into madness, as well as an enjoyable one to watch.
When credits rolled I had to surprisingly admit to myself how much of a good time I had with this film. It offered up some genuine scares, and frightful moments. While it didn’t necessarily break ground with the genre, it did manage to be effective in what it set out to do. The Grudge 3 also isn’t a demanding film, and intentionally makes itself accessible to a wide audience. This helps to the point of getting it in front of folks. Anyone can slide right in, catch up on the back story, and enjoy this satisfying ghost story. Miraculously, a franchise wrought with unoriginality proved to be able to bring some real entertainment value to the table making this for a heck of a fun film to watch.
Brutal As Hell Rating
3 ½ out of 5