Following the recent and continuing trend of Japanese horror movies getting the Hollywood treatment, Takashi Shimizu’s The Grudge is easily the best of the lot. Once again the director remakes his own film, but the difference here is that the story now involves an American couple who live in Japan. With many more shocks, and the constant threatening aura, The Grudge is vastly superior to The Ring and The Ring 2(American), and is equally as good as the original Ju-On movie.
Sarah Michell Gellar once again appears on the big screen in a role different from the characters she has played in the past. She stars as a foreign social working student along with her boyfriend played by Jason Behr. When she covers for a friend who has not turned up for work, she visits a house in Tokyo. There she meets an old woman who is nearly comatose, and on further investigation she sees that the house is haunted and cursed, and she is attacked. We are then shown small episodes involving the past occupants of the house and see that anyone who lives there inevitably is killed by the terrifying plague inside the house. As the story goes on the reason for the curse is explained, and Karen (Gellar) tries to save herself.
Ju-On already ranks as one of the scariest movies ever made, and The Grudge is a worthy attempt which has some pluses and minuses over the original. The story is certainly easier to follow and more is explained, although it refuses to be told in a linear fashion. This adds to the uneasiness we feel while watching it, but is less confusing than the previous version. The scene here involving the ghost chasing one victim around an office building is better than the original, though the subsequent ‘bed’ moment is not as good. The section involving the school girls was one of the best scenes in the original, but it has been removed, (the time skipping in that part is confusing the first time round) but Ted Raimi’s final scene makes up for this. The soundtrack is as good as the original, that gargling noise is especially effective in the cinema. Every shock, even while some are predictable, is good and it is relentless in its search for another scare.
Although most of the actors have small parts and there is not really a lead part for most of the film, everyone performs well. Gellar proves she can perform on the big screen, and can be the weak, scared girl rather than Buffy. Pullman is also good, and although his part in the first few minutes got laughter from the audience, he redeems himself. The actors from the original movie do well, and Raimi is very good too, providing some comedy moments, putting us into a false sense of security. Forget about this being a remake- this is how all horror movies should be done; we are always aware that something is going to happen, waiting for the next fright, the atmosphere is relentless, and the scares are real scares, not cheap imitations.
The DVD has a decent commentary and featurette, but not much else. At around 5 pounds at time of writing, you can’t go wrong. A must for horror fans with open minds. Probably not for the weak hearted, or those who like their stories to be told in a linear fashion.
As always, feel free to leave any comments on the movie- did this cause any nightmares or did you just think it was the latest in a long line of average long haired nonsense?