The Grudge

The Grudge

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?

Silent Hill: Silent But Diddly!

Silent Hill is based on the computer game of the same name- Quiet Hill. I’ve never played it but I hear that actually this film is based on bits from all of the games, most notable the scene where you enter the sewers and are attacked by hordes of giant spiders. That was very scary in the game, but not scary et al here because it doesn’t actually happen.

A woman loses her daughter in a scary town and decides to go looking for her. The town in covered by a spooky fog, and everything is very quiet. She enters the town while her husband tries to catch up with her a few miles behind. In the town she is attacked by zombies, people with shovels for heads, nurses with bandages for eyes, and wasps with guns for their mouths. She realises that it is all a cult where the children are burned in giant statues made of hay- hence all the smoke and fog in the town. Her daughter is going to be burned and it is a race against time to save her. The interesting part is that only certain times of the day can the monsters come out- a copy of Dracula. When the clocks strikes she knows she’d better hide as that is when the monsters (known in the game as cenobots) come out to play and eat! It gets even more interesting as the husband comes to the town but finds it completely deserted, so we don’t know if it is all a dream, or if she is dead, or if he is dead, or if anything is what it seems. The acting is mostly good, and Mr Bean does a good job of playing a serious role for once rather than the slap stick comedy he is used to. The mum (played by Peggy Mitchell)is the latest in a long line of strong female heroines, starting with Buffy. If it had been Buffy, she would have no doubt contacted Giles, worked out what was going down, and fought her way through the bad guys, quipping as she went.

There are a few scary moments (like when the woman wonders if she should look into the dirty bath water or not) but I think it would have been better if it had been a Zelda game instead. Imagine watching Link riding Epona out of the forest of his home and out onto a massive Hyrule field, with a score of enemies coming towards him. It would be great to see all the sword fights, but also the boomerang and hookshot too. Silent Hill is one of my favourite games, and this film does the game justice as it doesn’t make any sense but has good graphics.

Best Scene- When the wife is walking between all the scary nurses, trying not to breathe or touch them or they’ll stab her. One of them farts and she tries not to laugh and be sick. This was completely inappropriate and horrifying.