There are two things that connect The Grudge 3 to previous installments in the series. The first is the character of Jake (Matthew Knight), who ends up dead after the film’s opening scene. He was the only one to make it out of the second film alive, and the evil spirit the kills everyone in this series decided that, after three years and putting Jake in a mental asylum, it’s time finish the job. Jake is dead, although nobody but us is exactly sure why, and it’s time to go through another Grudge movie. Oh, boy!
The second tie, in case you are already asleep, is the evil spirit, Kayako (portrayed this time by Aiko Horiuchi). There’s a reason for her existence, summed up in the same quote that opens each one of these flicks, but the basic idea is that she’s a ghost on a mission to make everyone else miserable and eventually dead, simply because that’s what horror movie ghosts need to do. She has only a tangential connection to almost every character in this movie, but is going to go after them regardless of motive. It’s a horror flick; these things don’t have to make sense.
So, we get a bunch of characters gathered together in an apartment building, and they’re going to be haunted and possibly killed. There’s also one, Naoko (Emi Ikehata), who travels from Tokyo to Chicago in hopes of ending the curse, because she’s the spirit’s younger sister, I guess. She’s not the lead, though, as it’s not that type of movie. Instead, we have Lisa (Johanna Braddy), someone who wants to move out of the apartment, but is going to stay once the creepiness starts.
She has a brother, Max (Gil McKinney), who manages the building, and a sister, Rose (Jadie Hobson), who suffers from asthma attacks. So, these people, who knew Jake and are therefore loose ends (I’m assuming), are the new targets, and we go through the same type of storyline as before, with absolutely nothing fresh, nothing scary, and nothing worthy of the 90 minutes that The Grudge 3 takes to get through its meandering and terribly uninteresting story.
To be fair, I was so far removed from the mythos and the entire idea that the previous films had tried to establish that it would have taken a great piece of cinema to bring me back. I had judged The Grudge 3 prior to seeing it, as it had nothing working in its favor. The third installment of a terrible franchise, a direct-to-video horror movie, a cast of unrecognizable names, and a director with one previous feature under his belt — that, at least, was moderately well received. It’s a film that has nothing positive going for it, and thanks to the tedium that preceded it, there was pretty much no way for it to impress me.
Perhaps it’s that confirmation bias that made me really detest The Grudge 3, but stepping back from that I still can’t even see why people would like it, or the series as a whole. The first one, perhaps, as it at least had a moderately interesting idea. But after that, we’ve followed the same formula for two movies, never once learning anything of importance — despite the films’ attempts — and it’s all been so boring and not scary.
There’s not even a whole lot that happens for the first half of the film. We set-up a lot of things, sure, but since it’s a horror movie, it’s failing if it doesn’t even try to scare us. It doesn’t. The opening kill is seen on a security camera, making it lose all of its potential impact, and then there’s nothing until at earlier the halfway marker. There aren’t even any fake scares, or potential buildup, or anything — it plays out like a terrible, terrible melodrama that happens to take place in the presence of some ghosts.
The only people who should see The Grudge 3 are those who have already bought into what the franchise has been selling, and simply want a new-ish story that explains a little bit more of the ghosts and all that good stuff that seemed to matter two movies ago. If you’re still on the fence, this one won’t convince you to buy in; and if you’re completely over it, like I was after the (American) series starter, you’ll roll your eyes and go to sleep while it plays.
I think the only good part of this movie was the cast, which, considering the lack of recognizable names, was quite surprising. In the lead role, Braddy had a certain charm, more in personality than anything else. She delivers most lines not like she’s in a horror movie by added additional tension to them, but in a very naturalistic way. If her career hadn’t already taken her to direct-to-video horror, she might have a chance. Also appearing is Shawnee Smith of the Saw franchise, so if you’re a fan of her work … she’s here, I guess.
Look, I was not the right person to have to sit through a third Grudge movie, having not enjoyed either of the first two. This one is no better — not a lot worse, either, which at least makes the series consistent — and if you’re not sold on the series by this point, it’s not going to help improve that mindset. It has a decent cast, but absolutely no scares or anything that’s worth spending your time on. It’s a failure in almost all respects and only hardcore fans of the franchise should give it a look.