Some weeks back, I wrote about Splinter, and opined that director Toby Wilkins showed real skill. I also expressed worry over the fact that this follow-up was this, the third entry in a franchise that began with a remake in the first place. So here we are. Was I right to worry? Sadly, yes.
The Grudge 3 picks up in the aftermath of its predecessor, with the death of the last survivor of that film’s massacre. The setting remains the same Chicago apartment building where evil ghosts Kayako and Toshio in the last thrilling episode (apparently have grown bored with Tokyo). The focus now is on the caretaker and his two sisters, the younger of the two being chronically ill. Meanwhile, Kayako’s sister arrives in town, determined to put an end to the curse.
The Japanese franchise retained a real sense of terror in its second installment by avoiding excessive explanation and (for that matter) characterization, and concentrating instead on a relentless sense of impending, omnipresent doom. Here, we are almost a third of the way into the film before the scares begin. There is little Wilkins can do with the script, which is competent enough for a DTV horror film, but inappropriately linear and full of explanation for a Grudge entry, and ends in a patience-exhausting finale. Furthermore, the director is also limited by the very well established (and by now far too familiar) manifestations the ghosts can take on. In any event, there is nothing fresh here, and apart from a couple of halfway decent moments that might jolt the easily frightened, this is a paint-by-numbers sequel.
There are no complaints when it comes to the image, except perhaps to suggest that it is almost too clear – we see the ghosts so clearly, and in such brightly lit surroundings, that just about any sense of mystery evaporates. But as far as the disc is concerned, one can’t really complain about such a thing as excessive quality. The colours are strong, as are the blacks and reds. There is no grain or visible edge enhancement, and no obscuring murk. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.
For the most part, the 5.1 soundtrack is very good, with a vivid, ominous soundtrack, and clear, undistorted dialogue. The franchise’s trademark sound effect, Kayako’s growl, emerges menacingly from all speakers, though it sound rather more like a sound effect and less ghostly this time around. There are also a couple of times where the left and right placement of sound cues seem to be reversed, based on where the characters are looking at the time the noises are heard.
Deleted Scenes: Three of them, running 4:25.
“Tokyagoaria”: (9:44) A featurette on the location shooting, with Bulgarian locations standing in for Chicago and Tokyo. The intent seems to be to convince us that this obvious cost-saving measure is a virtue.
“The Curse Continues”: (5:54) A run-of-the-mill making of featurette.
Trailers. Twelve of them.
A disappointing entry, though that disappointment should hardly come as a surprise.