Once again, Girl on the Third Floor is one of those horror films that divide critics and audience members. This is the directorial debut from Travis Stevens, who produced over 27 horror movies in the last 20 or so years, and it stars the one and only CM Punk… a wrestler-turned-actor who isn’t great at acting, just like all the other wrestlers-turned-actors.
Despite not sounding very promising on paper, the movie trailer looks quite convincing and the critical response for Girl on the Third Floor was overwhelmingly positive. As I said, though, audiences didn’t dig the film as much, as you can easily see for yourself going through the IMDb user reviews.
Also, the story doesn’t sound great either. Don Koch (CM Punk), has a wife and is about to become father, when he moves to a rundown mansion to renovate it. His plan is to move there with the family once the house is settled and his future baby will be born. However, the house might not agree with Don’s idea…
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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Now you might be wondering: who is right? Is this movie as terrible as audience members say or is it as great as critics claim?
I think that Girl on the Third Floor is a different film than what it disguise itself as. To put it simply, this is not a haunted house film, instead it’s a parody of haunted house movies. I believe Girl on the Third Floor would be a much better movie in people’s eyes once they know what it really is. There’s an argument to be made, though, about the subtlety of this film’s agenda: unlike horror flicks like The Cabin in the Woods, which was marketed as a straight horror movie, even though it was meant as a spoof, Girl on the Third Floor is very subtle in its way of poking fun at tropes and conveniences of the haunted house sub-genre.
Yet, this picture features a few outstanding elements of quality. First and foremost, Girl on the Third Floor relies on great practical effects that enhance every gory and brutal scene. Granted, the more graphic stuff doesn’t occur until the third act – one hour into the movie – but when it hits, it really hits home. It’s not disturbing or gross violence, but it’s very gory and unflinching nonetheless.
Another aspect where this film succeeds is its visual presentation. Somewhat reminiscent of Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! in this regard, Girl on the Third Floor has amazing and purposeful cinematography, considering the entire movie takes place within the haunted house. Every shot relies on a different filmmaking technique and, depending on the director’s intent, every camera angle serves a purpose. For example, whenever a character is dealing with stress or guilt, the framing includes an unusual amount of space over their head, as to visualise the looming thoughts they’re experiencing.
However, what really stood out to me in this film is the way sound-design and sound-editing are used. These aspects, to me, really carry large portions of Girl on the Third Floor. On top of that, the way the sound is edited and mixed is able to make you feel what the character is feeling in a certain situation. Without exaggeration, this movie features one of the best use of sounds I’ve witnessed the whole year.
Oddly enough, though, Girl on the Third Floor really sucks in other departments. The biggest complaint I have with this picture is the acting, which ranges from passible (Sarah Yates) to abysmal (CM Punk and everyone else). On top of that, the main character (played by the former wrestler) is unlikeable from beginning to end. So, aside from having to endure his awful performance, the audience has to put up with a lead who takes up most of he screentime and who acts like a douchebag from the very beginning of the film.
Despite the fantastic sound-design, the soundtrack itself and the music chosen for the movie are ear-bleedingly bad. It’s not just personal taste, the way many different kinds of intertwine throughout Girl on the Third Floor feels jarring and nauseating.
Yet, Girl on the Third Floor feels very formulaic in its approach to horror: the dog sensing things, the overabundance of cheap jump-scares, the exposition-heavy dialogue occur in the film one too many times. One may argue that this is part of the parody aspect, but to me it doesn’t excuse the fact that this kind of elements just feel annoying and distracting.
Overall, I don’t think Girl on the Third Floor is a great movie. I don’t think it’s a bad film either, though. Qualities vs flaws, the movie falls somewhat in the middle. However, I must admit I enjoyed the subtle parody and, in my opinion, the third act was quite unique and entertaining. Given how much some people hated it, I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending Girl on the Third Floor. Still, if what I wrote intrigued you, you can still give it a go. If you’ve seen it already, please feel free to give me your feedback: I’m genuinely curious!
Girl on the Third Floor 6/10
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