Toby Wilkins, director of the upcoming horror sequel The Grudge 3, told fans that the straight-to-DVD follow-up picks up right where the last film left off.
"It opens with the fate of Jake [Matthew Knight], who at the very end of the movie gets attacked," Wilkins said in a panel discussion at the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors in Los Angeles on Sunday. "He's basically the sole survivor of the family in that tragedy, and he's our way back into the story. Then the rest of the movie unfolds basically in the Chicago apartment building, where a new family who are unfamiliar to us are now trying to put together the pieces that were blown apart by the tragedy that occurred in that building. They deal with everything that means, and then the curse hits them as well, of course."
Wilkins appeared alongside Ghost House executive J.R. Young and stars Johanna Braddy and Beau Mirchoff for a discussion about the forthcoming film. The following is an edited version of that conversation. The Grudge 3 will hit retailers on May 12.
J.R., how did this project first come together?
Young: After the second Grudge movie opened really well, everyone was really excited and wanted to go forward with a third movie. We started kicking around different story ideas, and at that time we had already worked with Toby [Wilkins] on a number of projects, including Tales From the Grudge, so he kind of became the obvious choice. We talked to the original director, Takashi Shimizu, who he had done five Ju-on movies and said he was fully supportive of it but wanted to hand it off, and Toby became our guy.
Wilkins: If you count the short films, he's done eight movies already in the genre. The short films we put together to promote The Grudge 2 were really important to communicate the idea that the curse can spread, which is something that was actually integral to the second Grudge movie. It wasn't just going to be based on the house or about the house at all, it's about the horror of how these people died and how that literally leaves a stain on a place, but it also follows people. To communicate the idea that there's no way to escape it was really important to the second movie. It was just really fun to play in that world, to step into those shoes for a minute.
How quickly and easily did this come together?
Young: We had a really great writer, Brad Keene, who came in and had a take on it early on. He was a big fan of all of the Grudge films, and Ju-on, and his ideas were right in line with where the franchise could evolve. Between Toby, myself and the team, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, kind of working together, Brad did a great job getting the script together quickly.
Johanna and Beau, can you talk about your characters in the film?
Braddy: I play Lisa in the movie. She's the girl who kind of witnesses everything going on around her. It starts affecting her apartment complex and the tenants living there, and then it moves on to her brother. It just gets closer and closer to her, and no one really believes that this grudge, this ju-on, actually exists.
Mirchoff: I'm Andy. I'm kind of the oblivious boyfriend. My world kind of revolves around her and ...
Wilkins: Well, you're a glass-half-full kind of a guy.
Mirchoff: Exactly, very optimistic. I don't really care what she's saying about the grudge and the whole curse.
Why do you think the Grudge series has had such longevity?
Young: For me, I think it all started with one global incident: the fact that evil can keep spreading. The fact that you can never escape something in your past and try to move beyond it, but that it's always there behind you, I think that's the theme that kind of runs through all of the movies, and I think that's really scary.
Wilkins: I think the other thing that's particularly interesting about this particular curse is the chain-reaction nature of it. I think that's why it's kind of more flexible than other franchises. It doesn't have to be set at this particular house or at this particular lake or whatever it is. It has the ability to transform itself, and be reborn and new versions of it to be created. We saw that in the second movie, with all kinds of twists and turns, whose curse was it, and the imagery—just the iconic, terrifying imagery is so powerful, and there's really nothing like it. The long black hair and the dark eyes and the noise, it's just a powerful image.