Directed by Takashi Shimizu.
Written by Takashi Shimizu and Stephen Susco. Based on the
film "Ju-On" by Takashi Shimizu.
Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, Ryo Ishibashi and
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 10/25/04
I was tired of these PG-13 faux spookfests
two years ago, but they keep on coming, and since the Japanese film
"Ringu" worked its magic into an American film called (shockingly)
"The Ring", you can expect a steady diet of Asian-style horror-light
films over the next few months...and, to kick it off, we get "The
Grudge", a remake of "Ju-On" that has a couple of justifiably great
scares mixed with the single-worst, most annoying sound effect in
the history of film.
Buf...whoops, Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as
Karen, an American exchange student working in Tokyo as a caretaker
part-time. When one of her co-workers doesn't show up for work
one day, she fills in to take care of an old woman that lives in a
house...up on a hill...that has no natural light coming in...that's
FUCKING HAUNTED! Of course, "haunted" would imply that it's
just cursed, with little ghosts flying around but nothing to worry
about. The house in "The Grudge" has dead people living in it
that show up every so often to kill people that have moved in.
I'll bet you THAT wasn't in the Real Estate
Now, there's more to it than that, and
there's some mystery that I'm supposed to care about that involves
why the house is cursed in the first place. And, all of that
comes to light in due time. In the meantime, we have to watch
many people get killed off by these fake/real ghosts, one of whom is
a little boy that meows like a cat (earning the nickname "Cat-Boy"
by my friends Rob and Kristin, who showed up with me) and one is a
girl that, for lack of a better description, moans like someone that
seriously needs a drink of water.
Now, it's this girl that we need to address
before we go any further. The sound effect that she makes
before she shows up to kill anyone was cool the first time around;
if your dentist makes you say "Ahhh" and then you do it for, like,
30 seconds, that's the sound that the girl makes every time she's
about to put the kill on. Now, imagine her doing that sound
six times during one scene. Now, imagine the film's
writer/director, Takashi Shimizu, giving us five scenes that rely on
this sound effect.
It happens so many times that it went beyond
not being scary any more...it became downright hilarious!
Then, the script gets dumb...a cop (Ryo Ishibashi, so great in
"Audition"), who ALREADY KNOWS THAT ANYONE THAT ENTERS THE HOUSE HAS
A DEATH WISH, goes back to the house to try and figure out if he can
burn the house to the ground. Just prior to this, he pulls out
the fakest-looking bonding pictures of cops drinking at a bar ever
witnessed in motion picture history, providing even more laughs for
Rob and I. Gellar, who is in so little of this film that one
imagines this is the greatest paycheck value ever, doesn't even look
scared enough in "The Grudge"; there's a fucking kid that meows
before eating people, for chrissakes! You even have
implausible things, like deaths of people that never entered the
house in the first place, that make all of this business not only
unscary, but also unintentionally funny and completely nonsensical.
Then it really hits you--shit, the girl in
"The Grudge" looks just like the little girl from "The Ring", which
can only be considered copycating, since "Ringu" and the freakin'
sequel to "Ringu" were BOTH released before "Ju-On." So, not
only is all of this business hackneyed, but they couldn't even give
us a spooky character that looks different than the character in the
most popular film of this genre of the last two years. (Do I
even have to mention that the sequel to "The Ring" is out in three
or four months?) And, Shimizu has made "Ju-On", a sequel, then
two more remakes of the first iteration of the film, THEN made "The
Grudge." How many times can you make the same movie over
again? You'd think he would have made a classic by now.
Amazingly, "The Grudge" made $40 million
over the weekend, so we are almost guaranteed of a sequel. Who
wins there? Damn you, Hollywood, damn you...
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard