This first straight to DVD sequel of the Americanized franchise, has its hits and its misses but ironically comes off with a better feeling than its theatrically released predecessor the very disappointing "Grudge 2". So on the whole this one was a lot better then I would have imagined this series going once it started going straight to the home theater systems, but its a far cry from its origins or even the remake at that.
After watching "Splinter" I was still a bit cautious about Toby Wilkins as a director, as he tended to use the shakey camera a bit too much on that one. This time around though he does it pretty straight forward and none of that bs. He tries very hard to replicate the Japanese directors that made these kind of 'ghost' films creepy, and occasionally he does make it work but more often then not it feels far too American and watered down to make the cut. He does a decent job though.
The big surprise for me was seeing Shawnee Smith in there...now none of the acting was great (most of it was good enough to get the job done) but anytime you throw Shawnee Smith in there I'm happy...not that she does a great job either, as a bit part how could she develop anything, but just having her in there makes this movie a little more special.
As for the storyline, I guess this is a pretty solid sequel in the sense that they kept it very much in the continuity of the series. None of this 'let's take it somewhere else' they tried with "2", so it makes it feel a little more legit. They tried to keep it's Japanese roots within the story by adding in the sister of the scary ass Ghost lady into the mix (her name escapes me at this moment) but her role is pretty paper thin by the end and when it comes to climax crunch time she pretty much just gets annoying. Good effort with the Japanese thread but in the end it felt far too forced for this one. The ending was a little bit of too open for my tastes as they build this 'we can finally end the curse!' a bit too much when we all know this is a franchise now, and there's no way they are going to end it now. Hope that it doesn't spoil it for you, but for those of you that wanna cry there is another twist at the end that you might like.
It was a fun watch but nothing to write home about. Definitely better than the second film (which to me was like grating nails on chalkboard) but the series is slowly losing those elements that made the original ones (and to some extent the first American one) such a surprise and great film experience. Bring back the subtlety and bring back the thought provoking approaches to a relatively simplistic idea and then I'll be fully happy again. Otherwise I will continue to follow the series but without too much enthusiasm.
Written By Matt Reifschneider