I’m not sure I’ve ever been especially excited for a haunted house movie, in large part because they often feel very similar to all the others. Some do it better, some do it worse, but sooner than later something goes bump in the night and audience eyes roll. Girl on the Third Floor deserves credit for the things it does to change up the formula, even if it struggles in other areas.
The plot sees former lawyer Don Koch (Phil “C.M. Punk” Brooks) move into a suburban house that needs significant renovations. He’s got a wife (Trieste Kelly Dunn) with a baby on the way, and he’s got to make this rundown building into a home before she moves in. So, he begins to do just that, finding oddities at pretty much every turn. Gross, oozing liquids from every outlet and faucet, black marks on walls that crumble with a touch, and a collapsing ceiling that reveals a balcony built into the attic are only among the first things that happen.
There’s something going on, and Don’s going to figure it out or die trying. He’s an interesting character and one of the reasons the film works to the extent that it does. He wants to be this alpha fix-it kind of man, but isn’t exactly capable. His ego, his pride—those are the things that take the biggest beating in the film. Well, maybe not the biggest, but pretty close. Much of the movie is about choices and the consequences one must accept for making those decisions, and since he’s the protagonist, well, you can probably figure it out.
There are some interesting shots scattered throughout Girl on the Third Floor, and more than a couple blink-and-miss-it moments with someone—or something—appearing in frame for a bit. Thankfully, writer-director Travis Stevens keeps the jump startles to a minimum. There’s plenty of violence and gore, though, and some of the special effect shots are great. While the production values aren’t always the highest—it’s not a big-budget production, and you can tell—the filmmaking itself is solid.
I’ve maintained for some time that wrestlers should make decent movie actors if given the proper direction and additional training. We’ve seen many of them try it, and now it’s Phil Brooks’ turn. He’s good at the non-dramatic parts, and when he gets to interact with other people/things. This might be the wrong role for him, however. Especially early on, he has to carry the entire film as he does his renovations. It sets us off on the wrong foot. The first 20 minutes or so is mostly just him, and it doesn’t quite work. After that? More than fine.
Girl on the Third Floor manages to eschew some of the tropes that haunted house movies frequently flaunt, which alone is enough to elevate it above many of its genre peers. Its themes aren’t subtle, there’s plenty of gore and violence, and it’s less scary than it probably wants to be. But it makes its points and doesn’t throw out constant jump startles, so that might be enough to make it worth one’s time.
Conclusion: Girl on the Third Floor does enough to set itself apart from its competition.
Recommendation: If you like horror movies with gross things and a lack of jump startles, this one might be worth your time.
- Rating - 6/106/10