Today I want to talk about the film, Girl on the Third Floor.
This film came out in October 2019 and was directed by Travis Stevens. I very much enjoyed this take on the typical haunted house trope, and how the traditional effects it used made everything seem more real.
The story is about Don, a chap who decides to buy and renovate an old house for himself and his wife, but lo and behold things do not go smoothly due to supernatural shenanigans.
The film starts with Don and his pregnant wife, Liz, purchasing their new home in the suburbs. Don soon learns from the people around him that his house has a somewhat sordid history and a reputation for effecting guys in a very particular way. Don falls victim to this when he meets Sarah and has an affair. Though he does become guilty and refuses her when she tries to seduce him a second time.
After his affair, the bedroom ceiling collapses revealing a viewing platform in the attic and Don gets a friend to come and help him fix it. He confesses his affair to his friend and the two argue with Don telling his buddy to leave if he cannot keep the secret. Don conveniently leaves, his friend is killed by Sarah with Don thinking he is just left.
Liz then sees Sarah, which causes Don to freak out and go full security system mode. Sarah kills their dog (No! Doggo!) Don kills her in a rage and starts to put her body in the basement walls. But he gets distracted and the body vanishes. Don is naturally properly freaked out by this and goes on a rampage/mad search. In his very enthusiastic search, he breaks through some walls and finds a secret room in the attic. This secret room is full of odd drawings of a girl and an odd bird person creature. Don finds bits of Milo, his head, and realises his friend is dead.
He is then pursued by a deformed girl who attacks him with cursed marbles that get under his skin (gross).
While this is going on Liz has unearthed the houses history as a brothel and meets Sarah who claims to be a friend of Don’s. Liz later sees a ‘vision’ of the house’s past, involving Sarah, a BDSM show, and a leather clad ‘birdman’. There is also a child, Sadie drawing on the walls in the attic. Liz meets Sarah again who tells her that she worked in the brothel and was killed by the owner. Sarah tries to murder Liz, who flees and finds Don who confesses to his affair. Liz does not forgive him.
Sarah then literally erupts out of Don’s skin (eww) and tells Liz that she was testing her and boom, she passed! Liz decides to remain in the house and find Sarah’s body, giving it a proper burial. We flash forward six months, Liz has given birth and when she leaves the baby alone, Don’s ghost appears and gives the kid some marbles (not a safe toy for a baby).
I really enjoyed this film, I liked the plot which did not try to be over complicated, it stayed focused. I loved the character’s all of whom felt sympathetic in one way or another, they were flawed ‘real’ people with actual depth. The flaws were realistic, relatable, and well portrayed. I felt pity for both Sarah and Don, I could really feel Sarah’s anger and Don’s regret.
I liked the slightly different take on the haunted house trope. The modern setting for the ghost’s backstory (not every ghost has to be from the 1800’s) was a nice change of pace. I also liked that I did not feel that Sarah was to blame for her fate, I am very tired of female characters being punished in horror films for being sexual and the undertone being that they deserved it. The horror trope that only the virgin survives so it is ok to kill women because they have had sex is extremely outdated and irritates me.
I enjoyed the exploration of different types of horror/fear, the supernatural Sarah being the most obvious horror element. But also, the exploration of the horror faced by women who are exploited and abused. Plus, the social pressure and stigma placed on women and their sexuality, especially those who use it to empower themselves or ‘attack’ men.
The atmosphere of the whole film was well maintained, with tensions rising at the beginning in a thriller feel, the occasional gross out moment with the marbles and the skin wearing and the mystery element, trying to find out what the deal is with the house and Sarah.
The stakes were reasonably high and changed through the film which kept things interesting, we started with the happy couple building their ‘dream’ life which was threatened. Don trying to conceal his affair from Liz, then as Sarah became more of a physical threat we feared for the safety of Don and Liz. This increase in stakes and tension kept the film interesting throughout.
Overall, this was a fun film, employing various ways to keep you gripped right up until the end.