Flashback two years to Chicago.  A family that consists of father Bill (Christopher Cousins), new wife Trish (Jennifer Beals), and his son Jake (Matthew Knight) and daughter Lacey (Sarah Roemer) moves into an apartment, where Jake begins noticing strange, strange things next door.  Unlike everyone else visited by the curse, who are simply terrified then die, this dad is afflicted with obsessive jealousy while his wife gets struck into a catatonic state before pouring burning oil on her husband’s head.  Before long, they’re all dead – but not without the timelines flashing forward and backwards a few times, to confuse you even more.

The film flip-flops between these three subplots and timeframes, ending with a completely nonsensical ending and everyone as dead as that cat.  Then, just in case you were in the bathroom and missed a few scenes, the director generously shows them all to you once again before wrapping things up with a recreation of the original murder (already shown in the opening credits as well) of the mother, son and cat, which started off all the curse business in the first place.

Is it scary?  Okay, a little.  We see some creativity (if you can call it that) with the ghost appearances, such as one in a darkroom and another in a school counselor’s office.  But because character development is so limited, I didn’t really care that people were dying – even though most of them weren’t “bad,” as are American horror-movie victims.  You know, the teenagers having sex – dead.  The one smoking pot – dead.  Making fun of his mother – dead.  Hey, at least there’s some kind of message there, even if it is way too obvious.  But here, things are completely random.

The dialogue is primitive at best, with characters speaking in constant horror-movie cliches.  “Ever since your sister went in that house she felt like…someone was there with her, watching her,” Easin says.  “I’ve got no choice but to go back to that house.”

“I’m going with you,” Aubrey replies, behaving as illogically as all horror-movie victims.  “I’m not leaving here until I find out why my sister is dead.”  Yeah, yeah, we know.  Go back to that house and get yourself killed, sister.  That makes a lot of sense.  So she does, of course.

The acting?  Not bad, with the exception of a few Japanese characters who ham it up far too much.  The main characters talk very little, however – can’t take away from that swooping, scary violin score, you know.  Their real job is basically to be scared, which they do well.  Equally acceptable is the directing, which offers a few frights; the Japanese setting, which lends authenticity; and the cinematography, which is appropriately grey and blue throughout.

The real problem is the script, which is a redundant rehash of the first.  It wasn’t great to begin with and now it’s worse.  And again, that’s assuming you like watching people being murdered and terrified to begin with.  And that, my friends, is the crux.  Because what’s the point of a horror movie?  And do we really want those images in our head, when the world is constantly pumping out terrifying, gruesome news that is real?

American horror movies tend to focus on human evil, but this one has a supernatural bent, with many occult elements, including exorcism and child abuse.  Worse, however, is the film’s overt message, which is that nothing can stop a curse once it’s unleashed. 

“When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage, a curse is born,” states the opening sequence of the film.  “The curse gathers in that place of death.  Those who encounter it will be consumed by its fury.”