The Grudge 2
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Contains Additional Footage Not Seen In Theatres; Deleted Scenes Including An Alternative Ending And Epilogue; Grudge 2 Storyline Development; East Meets West Featurette; Ready When You Are, Mr. Shimizu; Holding A Grudge – Kayako & Toshio Featurette.
THE law of diminishing returns has seldom applied so vigorously to a sequel as it does with The Grudge 2. Written and directed, once again, by its Japanese creator Takashi Shimizu, the film simply doesn’t make sense and exists merely to try and scare viewers with one jump after another.
To make maters worse, it attempts to do so by using a multi-story approach that only adds to the confusion surrounding the whole endeavour.
Picking up just days after Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has been hospitalised as a murder suspect following the death of her boyfriend in a fire, her timid little sister Audrey (Amber Tamblyn) travels to Tokyo to discover the truth about what drove her sibling to the brink of madness.
Teaming up with a reporter, she visits the house that’s still haunted by the vengeful ghosts of Kayako and Toshio and swiftly finds ‘the grudge’ transferred to her.
Meanwhile, a trio of Japanese schoolgirls are starting to pay a heavy price for entering the same house as a dare, while a family in Chicago begins to act strangely following the arrival of a new neighbour with a connection to the strange occurrences in Japan.
Sadly, as ambitious as the set-up sounds, the film struggles to maintain any sort of coherence or tension as things become increasingly more confused and frustrating.
Shimizu’s original Grudge remake did, at least, employ some decent actors to inject some charisma into their parts with Sarah Michelle Gellar providing a suitably gutsy heroine and Bill Pullman lending some weighty support.
There were also some memorable shocks to unsettle anyone unfamiliar with the source material.
But the remake feels like a blatant cash-in opportunity that shows scant regard for logic or common sense. It strains credibility from the start, relies on repetitive devices and asks viewers to root for a set of characters that are completely beyond sympathy.
The aforementioned trio of Japanese schoolgirls, for instance, are particularly poorly treated and their presence feels more like an excuse for the director to feature them in various states of undress – a ploy that winds up feeling exploitative.
While Amber Tamblyn spends all of her time looking scared and fails to convince on any level that she’s capable of beating the curse.
The inclusion of the Chicago element simply drags out proceedings to an interminable length and has obviously been included with the prospect of another sequel in mind.
Even an attempt to provide some explanation of Kayako’s ghostly origins by including a back story involving her mother feels borrowed from Hideo Nakata’s far better Ring series.
The Grudge 2 does have the odd moment that impresses, such as an elaborate sequence inside a photo lab and creepy goings on involving regurgitated milk, but for the most part it feels like a tired offering that doesn’t really bring anything new to the franchise.
Viewers will almost certainly begrudge forking out their hard-earned cash on something as disappointing as this.
Running time: 102mins