The Grudge (2004)
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Sarah Michelle Gellar/Karen
A haunted house curses anybody that enters it with spooky, ball-busting Poltergeists and imminent hair-rising death. Will Sarah Michelle Gellar “Buffy” her way out of this “Brou-Ha Ha?
It never forgives. It never forgets.
Recently, I saw "Ju-On The Grudge", the Japanese original that was used as a template for this American remake. Not knowing what to expect; the flick viciously “Ju Onned” the crap out of me with hard hitting frights. Having viewed the US remake this morning (yup quite a way to start the day), I can say that if my flaky grey matter serves me right, I have seen the same film twice this year.
Apart from a simplification of the plot, random sprinkles of CG and a tweaked finale (great final frame), The Grudge was basically a Playmate Twin to Ju On The Grudge, right down to its non linear, “Pulp Fictionesque” manner of telling its story. On the downside of that jive, being that I already knew what was coming before it hit, some of the horror sequences were a tad decreased in impact. I wasn’t as afraid as much as when I was put through the ringer by the original. I can’t say that I found myself on the edge of my seat in terms of plot line either given that I was often aware of what was going to happen before it went down..
Good news is though; I got to get my Jockeys in a twist anyways through this sit down with The Grudge whacking me “dead on” on the fear bone 85 percent of the time via its many “boo scares”. And when it wasn’t playing that game of Polo, it was creeping me out 75 percent of the time with its grand collection of macabre imagery and horrific sounds (all about that rasping noise…brrr). With the “Halloween” spirit in the air at the moment; it was almost orgasmic to be jolted today! Furthermore the original Ju On The Grudge left me confused in places as to what in “Rourke’s Slick Hair” was going on. This simplified remake on the other hand acted as “Ju On For Dummies” where I “capished” everything no problemo. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? A bit of both I guess. It was nice not being lost but in tandem, this rendition was maybe a tad too simple for its own good. Its “slim fast” nature made it feel more like a “Greatest Hits” of genre scenes in places as opposed to a finely laced movie with a strong story to convey. It didn’t bother me much but it needed to be said.
Acting wise, everybody held their own admirably. The fact that Sarah Michelle Gellar didn’t get on my nerves was refreshing (she usually does outside of Buffy) and I relished that Clea Duvall had minimal screen time (I am not a fan). Having the same actors who played the ghosts in the Japanese original (Takako Fuji and Yuya Ozeki) also be the spirits here was sweet as well! They rocked in the Japanese version and they mucho rolled here too! The lime in the Corona was that Takashi Shimizu has directed this flick 5 times now (the 2 Ju Ons, the 2 Ju On-The Grudges and this one), so you bet it looked freaking good! Creepy camera angles, imposing sinister atmosphere and all kinds of well staged fear scenarios up the Horse Ranch….yup we got the works!
On the whole, "The Grudge" was a straightforward and bloodcurdling watch. Granted, it would’ve kicked my nads in deeper if I hadn’t seen the original not so long ago, but I still got the heebie-jeebies and leapt off my seat like a frog with a firecracker up its bung-hole. Isn’t that what a horror movie should be all about? Act on your Grudges!!!!
We get some random blood, what looked like a severed jaw, a grotesque morphing face and haunting apparitions. Gore is not what this movie is about!
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Karen) was excellent here and proved to me that she can handle a lead role in a feature film. Good job girl! Jason Behr (Doug) did what he had to do (not much) and should really enter next year’s Dale Midkiff look-alike contest. Clea Duvall (Jennifer) moped a lot and did it adequately. Bill Pullman (Peter) is always “TOPS” in my book (except for Independence Day…f*ck that movie) and he excelled here too! He reminded me of his “Lost Highway” part for some reason. NOTE: Is it me or is he starting to look like Christopher Lambert?
T & A
We get a lesbian orgy having to do with Japanese girls dressed in nurses uniforms feasting on each other. And Sarah Michelle drops her top during a “Twister” game scene gone “right”...nice rack! JUST KIDDING! We get nothing, but a man can dream...
Takashi Shimizu sank the boat with his morbid visual showing in the original "Ju-On The Grudge" and he did it again here by slapping a thick layer of dread, mature style and efficient scares our way. Good stuff!
The score by Arrow fav Christopher Young did a bang-on job in supporting and amplifying the fear quotient at hand.
For the crazy genre fiends who haven’t seen the original "Ju-On The Grudge" yet, get ready to chew fervently in terror on the theatre seat in front of you when you see this remake. Chew that seat! CHEW IT! CHEW IT I TELL YOU! The Grudge will give ya the willies! For all of you who have seen "Ju-On The Grudge" and wouldn’t mind catching it again, hit this bitter pill, get the same spread of jelly, but with a couple of changes and a simpler narrative structure in tow. Either way you win! Grudge this!
William Mapother (Tom Cruise’s cousin), Ted Raimi (Sam's bro) and Grace Zabriskie (of Twin peaks fame) also have roles in the film.
The rasping sound that emanates from the female ghost is actually a sound that Director Takashi Shimizu use to make as a kid. The sound in the film is blend of his and others voices.
Used-to-be-genre director Sam Raimi has a new horror Prod Company called Ghost House Pictures. When Sam saw the original "Ju-On The Grudge", he deemed it the scariest film he had ever seen. That prompted him to do produce this remake.