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The Grudge
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The Grudge (2004)

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Plot Summary:
"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. Known as The Grudge, this curse causes its victims to die in the grip of a powerful rage. Those who are fatally afflicted by the curse die and a new curse is born--passed like a virus to all those who enter the house in an endless, growing chain of horror. Karen is an exchange student studying social work in Japan who innocently agrees to cover for a nurse who didn't show up for work. When she enters the assigned home, she discovers an elderly American woman, Emma, who is lost in a catatonic state while the rest of the house appears deserted and disheveled. As she is tending to the stricken old woman, Karen hears scratching sounds from upstairs. When she investigates, she is faced with a supernatural horror more frightening than she could ever imagine. Within this house, a chain of terror has been set in motion resulting from a terrifying evil that was born years before. As more people die, Karen is pulled into the cycle of horror and learns the secret of the vengeful curse that has taken root in this house. Now she must stop it before it's too late."

Review by
Ryan McDonald
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Review Date: 27 January 2010 My Rating: out of 5


Sarah Michelle Gellar is an American exchange student (an apprentice social worker it seems) in Japan looking after a catatonic recluse (Grace Zabriskie) and finds herself plagued by the malevolent ghosts present in the house, which has a violent past (though it thankfully isn’t a total rip-off of 'Ringu', unlike many Japanese horror flicks made these days, though there are moments). Ted Raimi plays her employer, letting you know that brother Sam Raimi ('The Evil Dead') was the EP.

Bill Pullman and the busty Rosa Blasi (seriously dude, she’s Russ Meyer-stacked) turn up as a couple in the memorable opening scene, and in a few flashbacks. Jason Behr plays Gellar’s boyfriend, in a nothing role.

Not-bad Americanisation of the Japanese horror flick 'Ju-On', by the same director, Takashi Shimizu (and featuring some of the same cast), is more linearly told than the original, but also scarier (and more intriguing) than any of the 'Ringu' films (Japanese or American), and about on par with the Japanese flick 'Dark Water' (and the solid Americanised version with Jennifer Connelly). Gellar does more reacting than acting (not that she’s ever been a good actress anyway), and for a film set in Japan, there sure are a lot of Yanks.

Still, it’s stylish and pretty scary, even if you’re not sure what the hell is going on (and you’ll definitely get that feeling from time to time) or who any of these people are. This is not a masterpiece of character or plot, exactly, but it’s quite a bit of fun, even if I much preferred the original’s Megumi Okina to Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Personally, I think this more stream-lined Americanisation is slightly better than the original. Fans of J-horror will like it even more than me, I prefer the more bizarre, extreme Hong Kong horror, personally.

Reviewer: Phil Davies Brown @horrorasylum
Location:Scotland, UK
Review Date: 31 October 2004 My Rating: out of 5

Being a big fan of Ju:on, I really was psyched to see this movie and I thankfully managed to get tickets to a Halloween preview as it isn't released here until the 5th of November.

Like the characters in the film, no one has been able to escape The Grudge thanks to the theatrical release of Ju:on and countless interviews with Sarah Michelle Gellar in just about every form of media available.

I'm pleased to say that The Grudge managed to be a terrifying experience that only improved upon the the original, as it combined elements from all the previous versions as well as adding new material for American and European audiences.

The film has managed to retain the structure and moments of terror that made the original so good, whilst managing to elaborate upon the human relationships and aspects of the story that were previously unclear.

The performances were all wonderful considering that the actors didn't have that much screen time and the film was simple yet effective in terms of aesthetics.

The film did benefit from having Yuya Ozeki and Takako Fuji reprise their roles as Toshio and Kayako respectively and the inclusion of some subtle humour was also welcome.

Credit must go to Takashi Shimizu for making his fifth attempt at the material fresh, and for scaring the pants off of everyone that was present at the screening I attended. I can't remember the last time an audience reacted with so much terror.

In the end, The Grudge is a well made film and an exceptionally well thought out remake of an already excellent film that provides many jumps thanks to some great sound design and an effective score from the excellent Christopher Young.

Fans of the series might have some reservations about seeing this but the material has been treated with respect so fret not the American influence has most certainly not ruined this!

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