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The Grudge
2004 - PG-13 - 99 Mins.
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Producer: Sam Raimi
Written By: Stephen Susco
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Bill Pullman, Jason Behr, Clea DuVall
Review by: Harrison Cheung
Official Site: www.sonypictures.com/movies/thegrudge/site/
   

I've got my eye on you too!
It would be waaaay too easy to say that ‘The Grudge’ is somehow lost in translation as the American remake of a Japanese hit horror movie. But surprise – the American remake is a fun horror ride, just in time for Halloween or a particular cool autumn fright night. Oddly enough, the Japanese original, ‘Ju-on’ was just released in the U.S. a few months ago but because of the success of ‘The Ring’ and Hong Kong’s ‘The Eye,’ we can expect shorter and shorter delays before Hollywood snaps up foreign hits and remakes them with big name American stars.

The stars in ‘The Grudge’ happen to be Sarah Michelle Gellar and Bill Pullman. Unique to this remake, the original Japanese director of ‘Ju-On’ is back at the helm – and Takashi Shimizu is happily re-making his movie with a bigger budget that shows mostly in spine-icing sound effects. In the original movie, the haunted house curses all who enter so in a twisted way, ‘The Grudge’ works both as a remake and as a sequel – only this time, Americans are inhabiting the house. Shimizu apparently used the exact same house as he did in ‘Ju-On.’ (If I were a real estate agent in Japan, this would be the house to unload on unsuspecting visiting foreigners!)

Gellar stars as Karen, a social worker visiting Japan with her husband (Jason Behr). When she makes her first house call, she finds a crazy old woman and a strange young boy. Karen soon finds that something from the house is after her and she is both drawn to and terrified of what waits for her in the damned house. Like an infection, more and more people are touched by the malevolent spirits and end up dead.

With wide-eyed horror, Gellar, having honed her Buffy character over the years, is the perfect proxy for the audience to experience the ghostly hauntings. This time, Gellar’s not in kick-ass mode – kudos to casting – so if America’s vampire slayer can’t shake The Grudge, who can?

Genial Bill Pullman excels at playing average Joe’s – again, a nice bit of casting. This isn’t a horror movie where heroic wannabes kick supernatural butt.

Like the Japanese original, ‘The Grudge’ is told in mini-vignettes, purposely told out of order so the audience is always confused – especially when you’re watching a sequence of someone who was a victim just a few minutes ago. But what gives ‘The Grudge’ an edge over the Japanese original is its American cast. Having foreigners living in a strange land and dealing with a Japanese ghost adds to the unease and ever present sense of dislocation.

The original ‘Ju-On’ was not a particularly great horror movie. It was a throwback to Vincent Price Hammer Horror days when creaking doors and eyes in the shadows were enough to terrify the audience. So it’s a pleasant surprise to find ‘The Grudge’ so effective a scare flick. There are still logic flaws and people still don’t run fast enough out of harm’s way. But Hollywood has apparently learned a new lesson – when they next remake a foreign film, they would do well to import the director too.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

 
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