The Grudge Review
Remakes are hardly a new idea in the film making world. Having said that, some classic movies are remakes. Take Ben Hur for example, a remake of an old silent film. However, for every Ben Hur, there is always a 'Psycho' or 'Planet of the Apes'. This year alone we have a new version of War of the Worlds and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Although both of these are big budget affairs, can they even match the beloved originals....only time will tell. Remakes of foreign language films have always been popular with English speaking audiences who can't be bothered to read subtitles. Three Men and a Baby is a remake of a French film and we shall not go into detail on how many monster movies have been un-credited remakes or just plain rip-offs of the long running Godzilla film series. In the advent of DVD, the film going public has been introduced to the wonders of Asian cinema. We all know Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. With DVD we have got to know less known talents of Hong Kong Cinema who were only known to the hard core fans. Another plus to DVD is that companies worldwide realise that Asia, in particular, produce what is possibly the best horror movies around at this time. The American horror market, apart from the independent sector, continually churns out utter drivel (Scream sequels, I Know what you did...) only occasionally does real terror hit the screen, a fair bit quite recently (House of 1000 Corpses, Cabin Fever) but Asia is the place to go. The studios realise this so the remake rights are bought up like there is no tomorrow. The recent remake of Hideo Nakata's Ringu (The Ring) was good. Hideo even helmed the American sequel. We now Takashi Shimizu helming his own American remake of his own Japanese hit, Ju-On translated into.....The Grudge.
Karen Davis is an American nurse working in Japan. Her job involved caring for the needy and sick. Unfortunately her latest patient, Emma lives in a house with a seriously disturbed past. Waking the vengeful spirits of previous occupants within the house, Karen must battle her own sanity to save not only herself but anyone who comes into contact with the spirits.. Not wishing to give too much of the plot away, a husband has murdered his wife which was witnessed by their son. As the wife died an unnatural death in a fit of rage she becomes an unrestful spirit wreaking havoc on those who enter her house. An American family moves in to the house and one by one become victims of 'Ju-On (The Grudge). It is this house Gellar's character attached to. Karen becomes drawn in to the house's history and due to the strange goings-on, a local police detective becomes involved. This leads to a superbly staged climax which is expertly edited and directed. Although a remake of his original, the director works from an American written script (by Stephen Susco) and the film contains just enough differences to make the film stand on it's own merits.
Producer Sam (Evil Dead) Raimi has assembled a first class cast. Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Karen and is backed up by Bill (ID4) Pullman, KaDee (Anacondas) Strickland and Clea (The Faculty) DuVall. Also in the cast is Raimi's brother, Ted who is familiar to audiences due to being in Spiderman and playing possessed Henrietta in Evil Dead 2. What is unique about The Grudge is that for an American movie it is based solely in Japan. This benefits the film immensely as you get to feel for Gellar's character as she feels lost and alienated in a foreign land.
The Ju-On series in Japan is a mini-empire. Not only is there two cinema films, a couple of TV movies and some short films (included on the disc) but a third feature film is in development as well as an American Part 2. This release of The Grudge is Shimizu's restored director's cut and is around seven minutes longer then the version that played cinemas. From what I can tell, we have several extra character scenes and some of what I call 'The Grudge footage' (scary kid and long haired Japanese lady). I apologise to readers that I can't be more specific, as I do not own the theatrical cut and it's been a good seven months or so since I last watched it. Therefore, I cannot compare the two films side by side. The film is still as brilliant as ever and cannot recommend it highly enough