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The Grudge
DVD disk
Feb 1, 2005 By: JoBlo
The Grudge order
Director:
Takashi Shimizu

Actors:
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Jason Behr
KaDee Strickland

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An American student joins her boyfriend in Japan and soon finds herself taking care of a demented old lady in one messed-up house "with a past". It isn't long before the girl is being creeped out by strange apparitions in the home, and finds herself in the hospital, confused about what the hell happened exactly. As it turns out, a curse is formed whenever a person dies within the grips of a powerful rage, and that curse is passed on to whomever walks into the place in which that curse was created. Yeah...she's basically fucked.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I'm not sure if I really got creeped out by this film because I watched it all by myself, in the middle of the night, in the dark or if it really was an effective horror show, but all's I know is that a 15-second walk to the bathroom about halfway through this movie, scared the shit out of me (yeah, it might've been that "time of the month" as well). Whatever the case, if you're looking for a quick-and-easy scary movie that won't necessarily blow you away with its storyline, but will make you feel really uncomfortable and tensed up, as one silent moment turns into an apparition and another scary moment turns creepy when the lights go out and a face appears, this flick might just be for you. And with a runtime of a touch under an hour and a half, you just have to watch it in the dark and at night, to really enjoy its overall creepy, desolate and uneasy atmosphere.

Now while much of the film's eeriness can be compared to that other Japanese import, THE RING, this movie tended to run into a tad of redundancy as one scene of someone being stalked by weird apparitions leads almost directly into another scene of someone else being scared as well -- but even then, most of those scenes were effective, with the film's frightening score, helping to up the ante as the director did a pretty solid job of balancing the silent baby steps with the speedy apparitions. The one shot of the kid's head popping up next to the bed scared the beejesus out of me. The film's cast was also good as the folks caught in the web of the "Japanese Haunted House from Hell", while Sarah Michelle Gellar, whose character was actually in the film a lot less than I thought, was convincing as the Americano looking for answers. And is it me or does Ted Raimi look an awful lot like Spider-Man's alter-ego?

One of the film's most effective scare sequences, in my opinion, featured KaDee Strickland trying to get home after work. Yeah, that's it honey...get into bed to hide from the boogeyman...great idea!! Hehehe. Another thing that might've helped this film's overall feeling of uneasiness was the fact that it was set in a foreign land, which skewed things to the left to begin with. Anyway, like I said right off the top of my review, this film wasn't the most engrossing motion picture of all-time, but caught under my sheets in the dark, by myself, late at night...it somehow creeped me out for most of its way, so check it out if you're looking for some odd and memorable sequences featuring boo scares, creepy-looking "ghosts" popping up and around, and an overall feeling of "brrrrrrrrrrrr."
THE EXTRAS
Cast and crew commentary including Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, Sarah Michelle Gellar and others: This was quite the commentary track, featuring no less than 8 people from the cast and crew including the three mentioned above, as well as actors Clea DuVall, Jason Behr and KaDee Strickland, as well as producer Robert Tapert and screenwriter Stephen Susco. They all taped the track together, but unlike most tracks recorded that way, actually came off mostly coherent and enjoyable. In fact, there wasn't a dull moment throughout with many laughs, stories and background from everyone. A great listen for anyone interested in getting the scoops behind the flick.

"A Powerful Rage": A 5-part "making of" documentary (~ 50 minutes): You can watch each of these five 10-minute featurettes separately or together. A decent background course on the phenomenon of the GRUDGE films, with emphasis on how the Japanese version was "turned" into the American version, the origin of the Ju-On (grudge), the cultural differences between the cast and crew, the construction of the actual haunted house and a focus on the director, Takashi Shimizu...who apparently, doesn't speak English (this is mentioned about a zillion times throughout). I liked the piece about the cultural differences between the Japanese crew and the American cast the best, with the focus on Japan and its differences, and how that affected the film's production. Interesting. Other than that, I was already aware of most of the stuff about this film's background, so the rest of the stuff wasn't as informative for me. If you dug the film, you should enjoy all of the interviews and insight though. PS: The chick who played Yoko in the film is damn cute. Call me!

"Under the Skin" featurette (~ 12 minutes): This is a very clinical deconstruction of how human beings react when watching a scary movie, and how their interpretation of reality/fantasy affects their brain and its functionality. A doctor in the art of neurology (or something like that) comes in and discusses our fears and responses to fear, both when watching movies and in real life. Kinda interesting, but not really worth 12 minutes of my time.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I was actually surprised by how effective this film was. I was expecting a total rip-off of THE RING, with very few scares or atmosphere, but got instead, a pretty frightful piece that creeped me out as I watched it by myself and in the dark (much like the rest of my life). The disc isn't the most complete DVD that I've ever encountered, but featured enough background to satisfy most anyone looking for more info on the film and the phenomenon of the GRUDGE. Overall, a decent creepshow that won't scare the shit out of you, but might just make you think twice about walking down an empty hallway the next time you're in Japan. Yeah...you heard me.
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