The Grudge
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Takashi Shimizu
scr Stephen Susco
with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, Bill Pullman, Clea DuVall, Yuya Ozeki, Takako Fuji, Ryo Ishibashi, Yoko Maki, KaDee Strickland, William Mapother, Grace Zabriskie, Ted Raimi
release US 22.Oct.04, UK 5.Nov.04
04/Japan 1h35

Anger in the air: Pullman and Gellar

gellar behr duvall

See also:
JU-ON: THE GRUDGE 2 [2003]

The Grudge Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
This is one of the most surreal remakes in memory, filmed by the original director on the original sets with part of the original cast. It maintains the first film's creepy, unsettling tone perfectly--it just has different (that is, American) actors in the main roles.

Karen (Gellar) is a trainee social worker living in Japan with her husband Doug (Behr), and on her first solo visit she encounters a crazy woman (Zabriskie) and a mysterious young boy (Ozeki). Then everything begins to go nuts. In flashbacks we see the woman's family--daughter, son and daughter-in-law (Strickland, Mapother and DuVall)--who each have an encounter with the boy and/or his ghostly mother (Fuji), as does another American (Pullman). Someone's anger is haunting this house!

Director Shimizu, as he did with Ju-on, simply inserts something scary into every scene. Things pop out of nowhere, fade into view, make a freaky noise, and so on, keeping us thoroughly off balance. Like the characters, we're never quite sure what's going on, simply because the film refuses to play by the rules of the genre. No two people have the same experience after they're "infected" by the grudge, so we never have a clue what will happen next.

Amid this intense atmosphere the cast give us characters we can believe in. Gellar doesn't have much to do beyond widening her eyes in a terrified manner, but she certainly draws us right with her into the perplexing chaos. And the fact that she and the others are foreigners adds to the film's disconcerting tone. Although you can be sure there's no Lost in Translation culture-clash subtlety going on here!

In some ways it seems pointless to remake a film so precisely. Yes, it will bring Shimizu's Grudge mythology to Western audiences in a much bigger way than his two videos and two feature films have. (Ju-on 2 is supposedly the best of the four.) And by using the same sets and actors, this film feels like a fifth instalment in the saga. It'll be interesting to see where he goes next.

cert 15 themes, suspense, violence 7.Oct.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Grudge stuart anthony, newark, england: 4/5 "It was, as several reviewers note, exceedingly creepy, so much so that my girlfriend sat clutching my sleeve through most of the film (she is notoriously critical of most pulp movies, and also difficult to scare). The choice to fragment the plot between timelines without the usual screen text to let you know what is happening was initially confusing, but with a little common sense and concentration, you could easily get to grips with it. OK - yes, the plot was inherently simple, but did this matter? In my opinion, no - the film was cohesive enough and definitely chilling enough to satisfy anyone who saw and liked The ring. Characterisation? This film is not big on character develoment, character history is on a need-to-know only basis. However, I for one would rather have been entertained by a film with a good chill factor than one which spent two thirds of the film developing characters. Ultimately, it's well worth seeing, but if you are easily scared, not alone!" (9.Nov.04)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall