As much as I love horror films, it becomes slightly difficult to defend that taste when I have to watch films like this one. I do not mean to blindly hate The Rope Curse 3, though. I do appreciate some of the thought that’s gone behind the story; it’s the execution that is a complete fumble. I suppose many people assume anything goes when it comes to this genre. Add in some dark, moody atmospheric music, play with the light a little bit, and stuff the film with jump scares; honestly, I’d have tried it myself if it were that simple. The Rope Curse 3 follows Kuan-Yu, an aspiring parkour artist and son of a traditional exorcist family in Taiwan. One fine day, he gets caught up in some eerie complications when he’s dragged to a spooky hotel with his friend and cameraman. I must admit that I was bored out of my wits about 10 minutes into the film.
The film starts with an intense moment that’s meant to frighten the viewers and keep them hooked. I found it flawed right from the get-go. No, I understand that there are a lot of interesting cultural elements the film is meant to explore, but all it does is touch the surface (barely). Those were the most interesting parts of the film: the rituals, the costumes, and the folklore. Yet, it made me feel like I was watching it for days on end. I have found films to drag on before, but for a horror film with so many jump scares, it’s a first for sure. There’s nothing new here; it’s like fried rice made from leftover, stale ingredients. The film also sticks to the current trending formula of the genre: grief and its side effects. Some films have done it incredibly well, while others miss the mark by miles. The Rope Curse 3 introduces many parallel plots that are meant to, at some point, lead to a comprehensive conclusion—an epic battle (which was pretty decent), but it just made me want to freshen up in order to keep track.
The film feels as if it’s been shot by a fly, with random movements and shaky footage, which also includes CCTV footage that is meant to compound the fear factor, but it only makes it more forgettable. I suppose as someone who hasn’t seen the previous part, I’m being too harsh on it, but at the same time, even so, a movie should simply be enjoyable at the very least. Never mind that; the plot comes across as a convoluted mess that tries to mix things up here and there, but the pacing just messes with the whole thing, leaving you confused till the end. I suppose the movie could’ve started somewhere after the first act, and the film’s plot would be fundamentally unchanged. Some scenes really feel tacked on for added effect (the effects are not effective). A couple of years ago, I watched a film called The Medium. It was a Thai film that did something similar by mixing all the many ideas of modern-day classic horror movies and adding an element of culture to make a globally appeasing film. Both of these films come across as having completely wasted potential. Though, I will admit, that did make my heart skip a few beats.
When it comes to the special effects, the scares are as cliche as a haunted house on Halloween. Obviously, there are random chanting sounds in the background, adding in the voice of a child to make it worse (to be fair, children are terrifying). For the longest time, I wasn’t sure who the main character of the film was (this was probably my fault). None of the characters have enough going for them to make them memorable, but I suppose some blue hair would help. Hey! But at least the fight choreography is quite interesting. I know I said the film is rather confusing, but at the same time, it has a predictable quality to it too. Not just in terms of the plot and what’s going on, but the way the “scary” scenes are shot too. To add to the messy mix, the performances are so awkward, as if the actors have been forced at gunpoint to deliver the dialogue that comes across as half-baked. I don’t understand Mandarin or Thai, but something was going on with the dialogue, for sure. I suppose there are certain emotional scenes that the lead actor did an okay-ish job in, but by that time I was far past the “give this film a chance” point.
This is a quite disappointing and downright disrespectful film. The ideas could’ve been explored in so many different ways, yet we get garbage in the form of a Netflix original. I’m sure there is so much about Taiwanese culture that is worth exploring in this film alone, but all I can remember from it is the terrible CGI. I guess at the end of the day, this is a tale about family, specifically parents and children, and blame. All of this under the guise of a film that is meant to give you nightmares—I mean, just watching it felt nightmarish. I suppose another point the film wants to make is that sometimes it’s nice to mix up traditional with contemporary, but to drive home this point, there is a really random song at the end of the film that feels completely out of place. Oh, and that’s not all; there’s an end credit scene too! I could not go through with another one of these monstrosities.
It’s the holiday season, so if you’re looking for something red, don’t pick this one; even the worst of Hallmark Christmas films may be more entertaining. At the end of the day, I would’ve expected more, especially from the Taiwanese industry. Before I overdo my rant, I’d say just skip The Rope Curse 3. I’d give the film 1.5 out of 5 stars, with a .5 for the makeup in the cultural costume.