The Girl on the Third Floor

Some gnarly practical effects, a woefully unlikable lead, a hazy explanation, and some genuinely creepy moments all add up to make another pretty good horror movie now streaming on Netflix.

The story follows Don, played by Phil “CM Punk” Brooks, as he renovates an old house for him and his pregnant wife. However, as Don gets to work strange things begin to happen that test him and lead to some truly horrifying moments. Don is a bad dude. It’s implied early on that he is extremely lucky to have recently avoided serious jail time. He lives off his wealthy wife. He has cheated and may cheat again on said wife even while she is preparing to uproot her life to give their marriage a fresh start. He’s also truly inept. He tries to renovate the entire house with one hammer and a secondhand drill. It’s genuinely unfortunate that he is our protagonist.

That said, the actor portraying Don is very good. He is completely convincing in every moment. Even as things get weirder and more sinister, he sells it and makes it work.

What does happen? It’s one of those horror movies where strangers things just kind of start happening without much logic or explanation. It just gets more and more confusing until suddenly it ends. This can be very effective. This confusion and disorientation can create a truly visceral reaction in the audience. However, more often than not that reaction sours and becomes eye rolling rejection of the whole thing. I need something to latch onto when I’m watching one of these kinds of movies, and when the goals are shrouded in too much mystery or worse non existent, I usually end up rejecting it. This film offers up some explanations, but it’s a case of too little too late. Things are explained, but motivations aren’t assigned. It just adds up to a mediocre story.

What really captures the imagination are the effects. There are some truly gruesome and unforgettable images in this movie. Those moments were created by some very old school makeup effects. Horror movies are so much more fun when they use real effects. The fake blood feels more tactile. The monster is more horrendous because you can tell it’s actually in the room with the characters, and the wounds inflicted by the evil forces are much more cringe inducing and revolting when they’re done with makeup. This film shines in that department. Really fantastic work there.

In the end, this one was just disappointing. The story came to a rushed “moral of the story” kind of moment toward the end, where it’s all chalked up to “the choices we make.” The protagonist is a bad, unpleasant dude start to finish, and the explanation of the supernatural is deeply disappointing. That said, it scared me. It caught my attention and held me for the length of its runtime. It holds a really high score on Rotten Tomatoes, but you can for sure skip this one.

Not really my cup of tea. – B-

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