The Saeki curse continues, picking up right where the second film left off. The curse is now firmly entrenched in the building it was carried to in the second film and the tenants are either fleeing or turning on each other – the emphasis this time being on the building superintendent and his two sisters. Meanwhile, a young Japanese woman who knows the secret to stopping it once and for all has arrived.
The curse plods along, making less and less sense with each iteration. A decent chunk of this film is flashbacks, once again giving the back story from the first two films, so this installment is kind of sparse. The ghost of Kayako continues to torment and kill random people for no clear reason and the curse becomes even more nebulous and vague. This film threatened to actually have some sort of resolution, unlike the second one, but that was expertly diffused so that there is still room for another, most likely even worse, sequel.
To be fair, I’m not a huge fan of “ghost” horror movies and “The Grudge” films have always highlighted what I dislike most about them – unstoppable antagonists with vaguely-defined goals and limited (or no) options once you’ve aroused them. The third film, though, even loses the things that made the other two movies work. The creepy factor is gone. Removed from the atmospheric house in Japan and thrust into a Chicago apartment building, Kayako and Toshio become borderline comical (lousy makeup effects in this film didn’t help). A poorly-defined (and ultimately aborted) ceremony to stop her wasn’t even enough to count as a red herring and makes the whole experience even more unfulfilling.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the first movie. The second delivered even less, but was at least ambitious. We’ve reached the point of diminishing returns with this one.