Story: A crew of criminals seek to secure a document from a warlord, as it has some incriminating evidence that the crooks would like to make disappear. The warlord refuses and chooses to defend the document with violence, which leads to a hail of blades and whirling attacks, as both sides clash over this crucial evidence. In the end, the warlord is struck down, but with his last breath, he reminds the thugs that a curse is now upon their heads. As it turns out, the battle took place on sacred ground and that spells bad news for the criminals, should the old lore be true. Meanwhile, the document happens to escape their possession as well and as they try to once again secure the papers, they find themselves hunted by both the warlord’s people and an ominous supernatural presence…

Entertainment Value: After the magic and wonder of Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare, I hoped to see more of the same from Along with Ghosts, but this third movie in the series takes a darker, less monster driven approach. The narrative is focused on the crime story aspect and the vengeance angle, rather than the lore or magic of the monsters. I think the crime narrative is passable, it didn’t have me rapt and attentive, but it was watchable, at least with the hope of some eventual monsters. But as a movie in this series, it felt like a dozen steps back after Spook Warfare, as 100 Monsters was also more human driven, but it made room for the monsters as well. In this case, we do get the yokai eventually, but it takes a long time and the monsters aren’t in line with the previous two pictures. So I didn’t hate Along with Ghosts, but it was my least favorite in the series, to be sure.

I love the weird, creative monsters that populated the first two movies, especially since some of the yokai were around for both installments, which adds some world building across sequels. In this case, the fun, quirky designs are dropped in favor of darker, more generic, horror inspired monsters. The visuals can be decent, but nowhere near as memorable or striking as the wealth of monsters seen before. If you didn’t know this was part of the yokai series, you might mistake Along with Ghosts for a generic crime movie with some light horror elements in the conclusion. Of course, some might love the more scary type monsters and dislike the offbeat yokai seen before, so if you wanted a more serious, creepy take on the series, this will hold more appeal. I found it to be rather slow and forgettable, with the monsters as the sole reason to tune in. I’d recommend this to those who want to seek out mythical monsters in cinema, but I much prefer 100 Monsters and especially Spook Warfare.

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