THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL.
How long can a person hold a grudge? If you were to ask Takashi Shimizu he’d tell you it can span two sequels with his Japanese-made American-remake franchise, ‘The Grudge 3’ (now directed by Toby Wilkins). This is the third installment to the popular ‘The Grudge’ series and picks up from where ‘The Grudge 2’ left us (though I have not seen the latter yet). The backstory is still the same, it’s about Takeo Saeki’s murder of his wife (Kayako) and only son (Toshio), starting a curse in the process.
Even without watching the film, I was already disappointed: Amber Tamblyn is not in the movie. Yes, I know her character died in the prequel but Johanna Brady is nowhere near a good substitute. Who is Johanna Brody to begin with? Her biggest break after Grudge 3 is voicing-over Ice Princess Yue in the Avatar television series. In this movie, her acting was just like ice: dry and cold. She takes the lead role as Lisa, not as interesting of a character as Aubrey Davis from Grudge 2. She is the sister of Max (Gil McKinney) and 8-year old Rose (Jadie Hobson), the siblings live with each other in an apartment (the same one from The Grudge 2) where Max is the landlord.
What made the film frustrating is that the storyline is still the same as the two previous movies. For some reason, most horror directors think we enjoy seeing the same story with the same ending over and over again. This may be the first of the Grudge series I’ve seen but I do know how the story goes. As in the previous films, Kayako and Toshio’s angry spirits haunt the main characters (Lisa and Rose), and Takeo’s evil spirit possesses the male lead character (Max). It has also been a horror genre cliche for the ghost to manifest itself to children first (as in Premonition and The Messengers). Yes, it’s creepy and I must admit, it gets me all the time. But seriously, it’s way overused; it has become predictable already. I also don’t like the way people die in this movie, it seemed too fast; we barely know each of them. For example, the psychiatrist (Shawnee Smith): she had just told Lisa about Jake Kimble (sole survivor from the prequel Grudge 2) but then in the next scene she gets killed by Kayako. I was expecting her to play a lead part in the movie, I thought she was going to be the protagonist.
Kudos to the two ghosts, Kayako and Toshio though, they sent chills down my spine. They acted their roles really well and their make-up was the clincher. Kayako’s movement was really creepy as well, the scene where she chased down Dr. Sullivan was perhaps one of the scariest horror scenes I have ever seen.
The director also did a good job including unexpected scenes in the movie. The part where Lisa was kicked out of their apartment room and she saw bubblewrap on the floor with blood stains on it, I thought it was Andy’s (Beau Mischoff) corpse. Turns out, it was Kayako and she chased down Lisa with her creepy zombie-like movement. The highlight of the entire movie would have to be the astonishing ending. Takeo’s evil spirit possesses Max and ends up killing the exorcist, Naoko (Emi Ikehata), only for the latter’s spirit to reincarnate into a Kayako-esque ghost and kill Max in revenge. I did not expect that to happen and well done to the director for surprising me.
As for acting, the best actor role would have to go to Gil McKinney for putting up such a believable deranged-man role-playing. Beau Mischoff didn’t really get into his role, so too was Emi Ikehata. Young star Jadie Hobson did decently well for a child actress, she made a good asthma-attack impression as well. As I said earlier, the rotten tomato would have to be thrown at Johanna Brady. Her acting may not have been horrible, but it was definitely not acceptable as Amber Tamblyn’s replacement. Whenever she was told that someone had died, she just gave a simple, “What?” That cliche “what?” that anyone can do. Once again, I believe that Shawnee Sullivan’s character would have made a better protagonist.
Overall, I found the movie not worth watching but if you want to complete the Grudge series you may as well watch it. It is definitely a notch lower compared to the previous films (based on other reviews) but with a fresh new cast it should be exciting to watch for any Grudge fanatics out there. Just expect the same outcomes as the prequels though, because in this movie the cliche continues.