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John’s Horror Corner: The Grudge 3 (2009), watchable but easily worst of the franchise (so far).

February 9, 2020

MY CALL: It’s not awful, but the overall quality has dropped notably from parts 1-2. I’d still call this an entertaining one-watch horror flick. It just lacks the impact of Takashi Shimizu’s hand. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Grudge 3: Well, The Grudge (2004), The Grudge 2 (2006), Ju-on: The Grudge (2002) and Ju-on: The Grudge 2 (2003) would be the best place to start; followed by The Ring (2002) and Ringu (1998), then Ju-on (2000) and Ju-on 2 (2000). There is also the second remake of The Grudge (2020) and Lights Out (2016).

FRANCHISE SIDEBAR: Her neck broken by her infuriated husband, an unfaithful woman’s spirit came to haunt the house of her death where the angry enraged spirit (Kayako) infected the subsequent occupants of the home and even the caretakers of their elderly mother. After yet more deaths, an international high school student Allison (Arielle Kebbel; The Uninvited) comes in contact with the spirit and brings it home to the United States in The Grudge 2 (2006). Then Kayako killed young Jake’s entire family in Chicago.

This third Grudge movie continues in the Chicago apartment building where The Grudge 2 (2006) ended. After the death of the occupants of apartment 305 (i.e., Jake’s family), the building superintendent hopes to rent the unit to Japanese visitor Naoko, who is secretly investigating the deaths (that occurred in Japan) for herself.

Traumatized and institutionalized after the events of The Grudge 2 (2006), young Jake (Matthew Knight; Skinwalkers, The Grudge 2) is overseen by Dr. Sullivan (Shawnee Smith; The Blob, Saw I-III/VI). Sullivan doesn’t believe his ghost story and poor Jake doesn’t last long with Kayako ever on the loose. The boy is utterly brutalized by Kayako, who slams him across his holding cell (like Shia LaBeouf in Constantine) to the tune of countless compound bone fractures. The scene is just plain mean, and even though the CGI is weak, the intensity sticks with you.

THE RULES: In The Grudge (2004) the haunting was limited to the house of origin. But in The Grudge 2 (2006) Kayako’s ghostly reach extended beyond her old haunt into the rest of Tokyo and even to Chicago… much as Freddy’s Revenge (1985) and The Ring 2 (2005). At that point, the Kayako and her cat-groaning son apparently became able to appear anywhere they wish whenever they wish. There don’t seem to be any rules governing their abilities or behavior. They can go where ever they please as long as it is in pursuit of those victims who have come into contact with them.

Our croaking ghost is back, staggering down hallways and scurrying across the floor like a sprayed roach, she’s behaving more like Samara (The Ring) than ever as she emerges through bleeding paintings and crawls toward scrambling victims. Meanwhile her cat-groaning little boy ghost is up to his old shenanigans as well… and that meowing kid gag is really getting old. Attempts at horror feel noticeably less inspired, and there isn’t much gore (just blood). The first director to take on Kayako since Takashi Shimizu (Ju-on 1-2, The Grudge 1-2, Flight 7500), Toby Wilkins (Splinter) fails pretty hard to deliver what franchise fans want.

Some of the visuals are shocking, but overall this strikes me as less scary or creepy than its two predecessors. And not that it’s awful, but the writing, acting/casting and direction have all dropped notably from parts 1-2. I’d still call this an entertaining one-watch horror flick. It just lacks the impact of Takashi Shimizu’s hand.

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