The Grudge Review
When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage... a curse is born. The curse gathers in that place of death. Those who encounter it will be consumed by its fury.
Those of you with good memories may recognize that quote from my previous review of Takashi Shimizu's original Japanese version of this movie - Ju-on: The Grudge. Those of you with even better memories could even be aware of the subtle difference between the quotes... the two movies are similar, with important differences.
The plot remains pretty much the same... something evil lurks in a house; uncaring, relentless and determined. And it's killing people. This time round it's Sarah Michelle Geller (Karen) who finds herself being pursued, and with Buffy long gone and Scooby Doo nowhere to be seen the poor girl is in for a tough time. The setting remains the same, i.e. despite the Hollywood connection the movie is still shot in Japan, and although a number of American actors are used here I found their inclusion strangely disconcerting - for Geller, and Bill Pullman, apart the American cast add little, yet somehow manage to drag The Grudge down into mediocrity. KaDee Strickland, for example, spoils every scene she's in merely by having the wrong look - it's just too Hollywood! And again, when Ted Raimi (Alex) bumps into Yoko on the stairwell - the close up on his face as he screams just seems too... corny? At least Yoko shows him how it should be done! Perhaps if I had no point of reference I wouldn't be quite so picky, but comparisons with the original are inevitable, and once made this Grudge is firmly beaten into second place. Even Toshio (played by Yuya Ozeki in all three Grudge movies) seems less jarring to my Western senses, looking more like a painted child than I remember from Ju-on. The answer could lie with the PG-13 certificate, and although viewer shocks (and there are a few) are sometimes of the involuntary spasm type, I found things all a little tame this time round. The camera angles aren't quite “angular” enough, and the fact that audio is strictly English means that everything is so much more readily understandable... and, for some reason, less shocking. As I've mentioned, I found the majority of the American actor's performances a little “hammy” to be frank - for me the whole thing works better in Japanese.
Having done a little digging, perhaps the answer lies in The Grudge's movie making budget - made for an estimated Ten Million Dollars the film's costs are clearly chicken feed... relatively speaking of course! And now that the takings are being counted - at least One Hundred and Ten Million Dollars - I'm hopeful that The Grudge 2 will be the horror movie I had looked forward to here, but I suspect that PG-13 certificate will still be a tempting one for the movie moguls...