Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast and crew commentary. 'Under
the Skin' – a medical explanation of fear response in film.
The Birth of The Grudge.
HOLLYWOOD appears to have run out of inspiration for what makes
a good horror film at the moment.
Thank God, then, for Japan, which seems to have cornered the
market on scaring the wits out of viewers.
While The Exorcist
is beginning to feel like a tired franchise, the likes of The
Ring and, now, The Grudge, appear to have plenty of ideas
on how to chill people.
Maybe it's because they don't really conform to a stock set of
Hollywood horror rules, in that there is no stalker waiting in
the shadows, or head-spinning demons just waiting to hurl green
vomit at you.
The Ring made watching the video scary, and The Grudge... well,
try walking into a dark room after you've seen it.
They may both be remakes of better films, but there is no denying
that the American versions of these Japanese classics now command
a very strong position in the marketplace.
What's more, this latest remake (of Ju-on: The Grudge) has been
done by the director of the original himself, Takashi Shimizu,
who now gets to scare people with a bigger set of toys at his
The Grudge finds Sarah Michelle Gellar as young American student,
Karen, a newcomer to Tokyo, who suffers the misfortune of being
sent by a service as a caregiver to a fellow American family.
Arriving at their house, she finds little sign of the occupants,
except for a seriously catatonic grandmother, and a creepy little
Japanese boy trapped in an upstairs closet.
The boy in question seems frightened
at first, but then unleashes a terrifying force which places a
curse on whoever witnesses it - although to say any more would
be to ruin the objective.
As a result, a terrified Karen must reconstruct the grisly history
of the house, aided by the Japanese police, in a bid to stop 'the
grudge' from claiming her as its next victim.
Her subsequent investigations lead to the apparent suicide of
Bill Pullman's former professor, who seems to share a similar
connection to the house in question.
What makes The Grudge so memorable, however, is the truly unpredictable
nature of the evil that lurks within, as well as some clever touches
from the director.
Far from feeling like a Hollywood production, the movie maintains
a distinctly Japanese feel and actually plays like an ensemble
piece, rather than a star vehicle for Gellar.
As such, viewers can never quite be sure who is going to survive,
and from which direction their next jolt is going to come from.
Shimizu also keeps things fast-moving (even if the opening 20
minutes play as if they're on a loop), so that you can virtually
count the seconds between each jump, and explains very little
in the process, thereby forcing the viewer to play catch up and
think about it for a very long time afterwards.
And while there is undoubtedly a lot of fun to be had in watching
the terror unfold in a darkened cinema with countless other viewers,
try not turning the lights on at home when you get back afterwards.
The Grudge is that rare type of chiller - one which leaves you
genuinely creeped out and checking under the bed in its aftermath.
It could also mark Shimizu as a major player on the Hollywood
circuit and should do wonders for Gellar's career in the wake
of that Scooby-Do nonsense.
It's the film to see this Halloween!