Movie Reviews by Nigel A. Messenger and Neils Hesse
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, Clea DuVall, Will Mapother
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Review by Nigel A. Messenger
THE GRUDGE is a remake of a very successful Japanese movie JU-ON: THE GRUDGE but unlike the usual US remakes of foreign films THE GRUDGE has been made by the same director Takashi Shimizu and most of the same crew as the original movie.
Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as Karen, an American exchange student studying social work and just moved to Japan with her partner. She agrees to cover for a nurse who has not shown up for work and goes to the house of an elderly American woman who seems to be in a comatose state.
However the house has a history and is thought by the locals to be possessed and anyone who enters is doomed. Without spoiling the plot I should at this point say that after watching THE GRUDGE even writing this review is giving me the creeps and I am not usually affected by movies like this having become desensitised to some degree over time. While a good ‘jump movie’ might make you jump once or maybe twice THE GRUDGE will have you on edge for most of its duration and will probably still manage to catch you off guard and make you leap out of your seat a few times.
While it’s true that certain imagery has been used before particularly the girl with long hair who follows those unfortunate enough to have visited the house wherever they go, the film is still extremely effective in creating a constantly scary aura.
Sarah Michelle Gellar really puts in a good performance as the central character and doesn’t fall back on any Buffy character traits. In fact she plays a completely opposite role.
THE GRUDGE is definitely one of the creepiest movies I have ever seen and I wait with trepidation for the sequel. The only disappointing thing is that the shower scene isn’t very revealing!
Review by Neils Hesse
The horror continues to forge on from the days of FRANKENSTEIN, HALLOWEEN, SCREAM to the modern day psychological chillers like THE SIXTH SENSE. The current trend in Hollywood is to remake Japanese cult horrors like THE RING, the soon to come DARK WATER and THE RING TWO. For THE GRUDGE the action or should I say the horror was left in Japan and indeed so was most of the cast and even the director, but added to that mix probably for box office pull is the post-Buffy Sarah Michelle Gellar in the lead role with Sam Raimi producing, and hey presto, the American/Japanese GRUDGE popped out. So now you ask do all these ingredients work well together? Well read on, read on.
Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is a young American woman living in Japan with her boyfriend – they are both exchange students. Karen works at a local clinic so that she can get a social care credit for her degree and it is this work that leads her to a house where she is sent to look after an old American woman, Emma (Grace Zabriskie). Whilst cleaning up the house Karen hears child like noises coming from upstairs and soon enough she apparently comes across a young boy, but when she phones the clinic they tell her that there is no record of a young boy living with Emma. Karen senses some movement in Emma’s room but what she discovers there leaves her trembling and speechless in the corner. Karen’s boss from the clinic comes to the house to check up on her and he finds her still cowering in the corner with the elderly Emma dead in the other corner of the room. The police arrive to investigate and they soon find the dead bodies of Emma’s son and his wife stuffed in the attic.
After Karen recovers from her ordeal the impact of what she saw and a journal she came across whilst she was at the house prompts her to make an investigation of her own into the house. She discovers with the help of the investigating officer that the original occupant killed his wife and young son before killing himself. The journal she found had a picture of a white man who turns out to be an American professor who committed suicide. After speaking to the deceased professor’s wife and looking at some of their photos she discovers that there was always a particular Japanese woman in the background of each shot apparently watching the professor. When Karen gets back to her house she finds that her boyfriend has left to go and look for her at the deceased Emma’s house. Meanwhile the investigating officer takes matters into his own hands by going to the house with the intention of burning it to the ground but muffled cries for help lead him to the very same boy that Karen had apparently seen earlier. As Karen arrives at the house she hears a voice that she assumes is her boyfriend’s but shockingly it turns out to be the very dead professor and now right before her eyes the mystery starts to unfold itself in a way that she could never have imagined it would.
Sarah Michelle Gellar plays it pretty straight as the simple young woman whose shocking experience forces her to ask questions. Supporting acts from Bill Pullman and the original members of the Japanese cast all prove to be adequate.
Takashi Shimizu twists the narrative of the film so many times that one would expect a truly shocking conclusion to compensate for all the backtracks into the past and leaps to the present but the conclusion proves to be fairly predictable.
All in all this proves to be an average horror that seems to be like every Japanese horror since RING involves a female with long dark hair crawling around.