Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Grudge 3

I'm a big fan of Toby Wilkins' Splinter and was eager to see what he would do at the helm of the third installment of the Grudge films. I enjoyed the first one, but absolutely hated the poorly constructed sequel. Wilkins had managed to create some interesting characters and suspense in a simple tale about a group of people terrorized at a gas station by a monstrous parasitic organism, so the Grudge franchise seemed like a great fit.

The Grudge 3 is one of the better looking straight to DVD features you'll ever see. Operating at half the cost of the original, which was $10M, the production values don't miss a beat. They also did a surprisingly effective job of making Bulgaria look like Chicago. And although the cast consists of mostly unknowns — with the exception of Marina Sirtis, the acting is pretty solid. There's only one small problem. No real scares...

Horror fans can be incredibly forgiving. They can excuse bad dialogue, bad acting and even a shaky story, but don't promise scares and not deliver. As much as I had problems with The Grudge 2, at least there were some tense moments. This time around, the attacks by the ghost lacked creativity and suspense — one looked like it was lifted directly from The Ring.

Here's the thing, the audience knows Mr. X is going to die, but they don't always know when or how. It's our job to keep them on their toes. Sometimes folks get too caught up in the kill, when it's the build-up that should be their main focus. This isn't about budget either. Suspense can your best special effect. I'm not sure who's at fault here, the writer or director. Both would probably disagree, since the film went on to gross $38M.

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