The country? Tokyo, Japan. The location? The famous Toho Studios (Godzilla!). The movie? Ghost House Pictures' THE GRUDGE 2 (which is slated to hit the big screen on October 13 2006)!
We're on day 43 of the 63-day shoot of director Takashi Shimizu's 6th go-around in Grudge-land (Yup, he directed all 6 of the Ju-On/Grudge movies). To be honest, I wasn't initially pumped for the sequel, but after everything I've learned on this visit, consider me jazzed up. Let me share the love!
Young and rebellious Aubrey (Amber Tamblyn of the now defunct TV show "Joan of Arcadia") hits Tokyo in search of her missing older sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar from the original). Once there, she teams up with hot-shot journalist Eson (Infernal Affairs' Edison Chen in his US debut), who himself has been investigating "The Grudge" phenomenon for a while. They both try to decipher the source of the "evil" as lots of uber frightening "grudge-ing" ensues
Trust me...Kayoko is still very pissed off in this sequel!
What I learned:
As opposed to its predecessor, THE GRUDGE 2 will NOT be a remake of JU-ON: THE GRUDGE 2. It's an original Chapter.
The film's driving forces are its 4 mysteries: 1) What happened in evil spirit Kayako's (Takako Fuji) troubled childhood? 2) How is the Grudge truly transmitted? (I have a feeling they'll take us by surprise with this one) 3) What really happened to hottie Karen? 4) Can you and how do you stop The Grudge?
The film's structure will keep to the other films' nature, non-linear with many individual storylines that connect in the end.
Look out for a scene where hung-up photographs of Kayoko will become animated. How? I won't tell.
Like the original remake, this sequel will be rated PG-13 for its theatrical release (bummer).
Sarah Michelle Gellar will be shooting her role at the end of the shoot. She only has a couple of days on this show (I think it was 5 days...don't quote me on that).
We will get a new Toshio on this round!
Another child actor is playing Toshio in this film as Yuya Ozeki (who played the role in all of the Grudge movies has gotten too big for the role)
This sequel has the same production designer as the original (Iwao Saito), but a new and well respected cinematographer (Katsumi Yanagishima). Hideo Yamamoto wasn't available.
The spooky house from the original will make another appearance but this time decrepit (it burned down in the first one)
Look out for a scene where Kayako leaps out of a mirror (with the glass turned into water). The visual effect will be done practically, not CGI (yippee!).
The film is written by screenwriter Stephen Susco who also wrote the original American version of "The Grudge and the upcoming PULSE remake.
Amber Tamblyn is the daughter of actor Russ Tamblyn of "Twin Peaks" fame (He played Laura Palmer's kooky shrink Doctor Jakoby)
The cute and smart Amber Tamblyn (Aubrey)
We saw three sets today. The first one was a replica of Karen's tiny yet posh apartment (that we saw in the original). Great pad! Very cozy...I'd live there! The second was Edison's humble abode. When I say humble, I mean: messy, packed (nice dark room) and "old school" (the man needs to update his electronics, his stereo was like 15 years old).
Last but not least, we got to see the house in the country where the supernaturally neurotic Kayako was born (which will be in the film via flashbacks). Think a barn/old shack-like feel, mixed in with a Japanese vibe. I half expected Jesus Christ to pop out of a corner with a glass of wine while on that set.
Vancouver, Canada native Edison Chen plays Eson!
We were supposed to see a murder scene but it didn't happen. What we did see was Aubrey and Eson in his apartment. They're talking on the couch, he gets up to make some tea, he comes back with that fine tea, she's asleep, he leaves the premises, giving her the space to get that shut-eye.
When she wakes up, she sees that Eson's not there, so she goes to look for him in dark and spooky places. And then...see the film to find out! ARROW NOTE: Amber Tamblyn is very photogenic and I loved how after every take, she'd get more and more emotional, hence credible! Loved watching her process!
Arrow fav, Arielle Kebbel was not on set, but she's in the film playing Allison. Let's hope a bikini is involved! Yum!
Being on a set
is always a treat, but this one had a special aura to it. I mean, the film is a
big production, but its Japanese crew was relentless in getting the work
done, therefore making it feel different than the usual Hollywood shoot. It
reminded me of the high octane energy that you find on low-budget movies. No
dicking around and killing time eating bagels on this show! They were on!
As for visiting Tokyo, Japan...well...wow...a great experience! It was Vancouver meets Manhattan meets Blade Runner. A very clean city (how do they do it?) with lots of people wearing mouth protective masks (kinda creepy). LOVED IT! I'd like to thank Unit Publicist Cid Swank for her efforts on set, SONY for making this visit happen (Ian! You the man!) and all of the other journalists for making my Japan stay a groovy one!
THE GRUDGE 2 HAUNTS THEATRES ON OCTOBER 13, 2006!
RANDOM PICS OF ME IN JAPAN
Arrow at peace in Temple? Maybe...
Talk about timing, the Cherry trees were in bloom when I was there!
What happens in Japan stays in Japan!
The TOHO Studios emblem, yup...it's Godzilla!
SAKE! CHEERS TO ALL!