Takashi Shimizu, 2004, Japan, 91 mins
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, Bill Pullman, Ted Rami,Yuya Ozeki, Takako Fuji
In Sam Raimi and Columbia Pictures' powerful new thriller The Grudge, based on the Japanese blockbuster Ju-On: The Grudge, the normal façade of a modest house in Tokyo belies the hidden terror within. It is possessed by a violent plague that destroys the lives of everyone who enters. This grudge curse causes its victims to die in the grip of a powerful rage.
Gellar plays Sarah a young American exchange student working in Japan temping part-time as a social worker. When she fills in for a nurse who doesn't show up for work, her troubles begin. Arriving at Catatonic Emma's (Grace Zabriskie) house she finds the owners missing and the house deserted and dishevelled.
Drawn upstairs by scratching sounds she finds a young boy and his cat. Trying to communicate with the boy she senses she is not alone and has her first, and not last, run-in with the house's undead owner known as The Grudge. Waking up in hospital, Gellar begins to uncover the true horror of what has just happened. When the owners of the house and her catatonic charge turn up dead, things take a decided turn for the worse. The inspector on the case also reveals his terrible secret that all those who enter the house die mysteriously or just plain disappear.
The scene is set for a mystery to be unravelled. Just like Scooby Doo's Daphene, Gellar stumbles her way through, uncovering clues about the house while the audience are treated to long explanatory flash-backs involving Pullman and a soon to be murdered student. Bodies and tension pile up as Gellar is drawn into the house itself.
The current trend for remaking Asian scare-fests has become box office gold recently, and Raimi's Ghost House Pictures is no exception. Thankfully they have retained the original director Takashi Shimizu and stuck to filming the story in Japan, giving it even more of an edge. Whether this is a shrewd marketing ploy or down to the fact that the director speaks no English and is working with basically the same cast, crew and story, is up to you top decide.
Not remaking his Ju-On:The Grudge, but rather combining several films from the Ju-on series to make this American entry, Shimizu keeps the scares coming thick and fast. This is not a movie to watch alone in the house or under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
But scares aside, this is a genre piece and at times the scares are so well sign posted that the odd suppressed smile or yelp of laughter at the audacity of it might diffuse the pant-filling moment entirely. Returning as lank haired undead spirit is The Grudge herself the sublimely beautiful Takako Fuji and returning as her undead son Yuya Ozeki, mutely staring at us with his dead black lifeless eyes, should be enough to scare you witless.
Gellar makes for a wonderful heroine, all fish out of the water watching her friends slowly die whilst trying to uncover the secrets of The Grudge, actually makes you feel sorry for her. Particularly as in most Asian extreme fests, no one lives happily ever after, let alones survives to the next instalment.
For fans of more challenging movie fare, the film dose boast an impressive story structure á la Tarrantino, jumping back and forth through the story's timeline and then some. You can forgive the fact that no sooner has Bill Pullman turned up on screen in the film's opening gambit than he's as flat as a pancake after throwing himself off his high-rise balcony.
Universal Pictures have announced the
UK Region 2 DVD release of The Grudge (Extended Director’s
Cut) for 16th October 2006 priced at £15.99.
- 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- English DD5.1 Surround
- Japanese DD2.0 Surround
- Feature Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Director Takashi Shimizu's Original
JU-ON Short Films “In a Corner” and “44444444444”
- Featurette: The Grudge House- An
- Sights & Sounds: The Storyboard
Art of Takashi Shimizu
- Production Designer's Notebook: The
Sketches of Iwao Soto
- Sarah Michelle Gellar's Video Diary
- Kadee Strickland's Video Diary