Tuesday, June 5, 2012


(October 2004, U.S.)

Never in my wildest imagination, did I ever think I'd own a film that starred the girl who played "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" on TV. Just goes to show that anything's possible in life. Admitedly, I haven't seen the original Japanese supernatural horror film, JU-ON, that this film is based. I still have time, though, because I haven't gotten to the letter 'J' yet in my list. THE GRUDGE, however, is directed by the same man as the first, Takashi Shimizu. So perhaps it's not too unsafe to make a premature presumtion that the two versions are not too far apart. Well, they are or they aren't, this film likely proves that Japanese filmmakers have something over the Americans when it comes to creating true creepiness, freakiness and genuine horror without the use of cheap gimics, serial killers who refuse to die or gory torture with saws.

The premise of THE GRUDGE describes an evil curse that is born when someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage or extreme sorrow. The curse is an entity created where the person died and those who encounter this evil supernatural force die and the curse is reborn repeatedly, passed from victim to victim in an endless, growing chain of horror (make sense yet?). The film depicts these events in a non-linear narrative from individual perspectives of those who have fallen victim to the evil curse. The evil is primarily centered on a particular house in Japan that, on the surface, appears to be physically non-threatening and unsinister (much like the suburban home in POLTERGEIST). Inside, though, there are ear-piercing croaking sounds and very creepy visions of the wife and child who were brutally muredered by the father in a fit of jealous rage. The images of these two (dead) people with their wide, horrific eyes and jet-black hair is enough to make even the strongest of horror film viewers like myself gasp and say, "Jesus!" One particular scene that always gets me is when a woman is riding the elevator to desperately get to her home to escape the evil visisons and we repeatedly see the creepy image of the dead child through the elevator window. Take a look...

Getting back to Sarah Michelle Geller for a moment, I'm not going to say that she's actually bad in this film. It's simply that her character is not particularly interesting, in that her character spends much of her emotions as disturbed and frightened. In other words, any overpaid Hollywood sweetie could have done the same, better or worse. I suppose for a horror movie (unless you're Jamie Lee Curtis), it doesn't really matter, does it? Bottom line, THE GRUDGE, whether it be deemed a remake, a reboot or just an alternate version by the same artist, is a genuinely scary horror film that plays on effective elements as the haunted house, the undead and the truly terrified victim. That's good enough for the likes of me!

Favorite line or dialogue:

Karen Davis: "The whole time I was in that house I felt something was wrong. What happened there?"
Detective Nakagawa: "Three years ago, three of my colleagues were investigating what happened in that house. Two died mysteriously. The third was never found."

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