Carole-Anne Freeling (Heather O'Rourke) has been taken to her aunt's home in an apartment within a Chicago high rise block where it is hoped that none of the terrible events which happened to her in the past will ever repeat themselves, as supernatural forces from beyond the grave wished to claim her soul. Her aunt Pat (Nancy Allen) is kind enough to the little girl, but finds her something of a burden, though her husband Bruce (Tom Skerritt) and his daughter Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) are more tolerant. However, the spirits are restless...
...and they have followed Carole-Anne to the skyscraper, which leads to all sorts of bother mostly involving the building's mirrors, of which there are a number. But that was not the bother most people were shocked by around the time it was made, as this was the last film of O'Rourke, who tragically died during its production, although she was able to shoot most of her scenes (her final one noticeably uses a double) before she left us. This only made the whole idea of seeing a film where the little girl character featured was the object of much morbidity not something many were comfortable with watching, no matter that it was respectfully dedicated to her.
Naturally, this was the source of yet more curse rumours around the series of movies, and as this was not much of a success at the box office anyway, that was it for the franchise, in the cinema at any rate as there was a shortlived television series which used the name but not much else as a cash-in: director of Poltergeist III Gary Sherman was on board for that as a producer. Now this has a terrible reputation as a not very good horror sequel, and much of that could be down to the ill-feeling the circumstances prompted, but in spite of that it was not a complete dead loss, for there were some neat effects here.
True, that was about all good you could say about this third instalment, but Sherman's insistence on keeping the budget down by using innovative trick photography and clever set and costume design instead of more expensive special effects paid off. Trouble was this did grow pretty repetitive when that was the only ace the film had up its sleeve, leaving the cast floundering as they negotiated their way around them, and seemingly calling the name "Carole-Anne!" about fifty billion times, which only gets more ridiculous the more it occurs. Not helping was the lack of any real reason for this movie to exist other than to wring some more cash out of the brand name, painfuly obvious after a while.
The plot had the girl attending a school for gifted pupils led by a spectacularly dense tutor (Richard Fire) who took scepticism to fresh heights of absurdity when he was faced with all the evidence of the other side orchestrating the hauntings. It was an indication of the disdain the series held naysayers in that his fate was the most violent of all three films, but when you piss off Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein was back too) perhaps you deserve everything you get. As Carole-Anne is kidnapped by the ghosts by the halfway point, the rest of the plot is a thinly stretched succession of the other characters being menaced in occasionally interesting, but otherwise patience-testing sequences. Odd bits and pieces stand out, all down to effects (Boyle in her debut emerging from a dessicated corpse is an arresting moment), but the sense of watching an afterthought never left the viewer. Music by Joe Renzetti.
American director who headed two cult classics: Death Line and Dead & Buried. Apart from directing ads, his other films included Vice Squad and the ill-fated Poltergeist III; in the nineties, after the little-seen Lisa, he concentrated on television.