The Grudge Takashi Shimizu

The Grudge Takashi Shimizu
The idea of remaking Ju-on as The Grudge is an admirable one. Like The Ring, the point of making The Grudge was to bring an original and frightening story to a mainstream, worldwide audience. Unlike The Ring, however, The Grudge doesn't make the skin crawl nor benefit from the westernisation. Sticking with the Japanese setting and director Shimizu, who wrote and directed the original, The Grudge suffers from its inability to embrace the accessible Japanese culture and use the spooky aura from the first. Instead, Shimizu places an American couple (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jason Behr) in a foreign land where they magically adjust without any hitches. Gellar plays Karen, a nurse called in to care for an unresponsive elderly (American) woman whose family has mysteriously disappeared. Karen discovers a vengeful spirit that places anyone who enters the house under a death curse and is forced to break the spell before it is too late. Where this film makes its wrong turn is in casting too many Americans. Sure Bill Pullman's character opens the film brilliantly, but the actor's involvement is hardly necessary, as is the inclusion of the American actors who buy the haunted house. Of course, another flaw is refusing the many lesser knowns that enter the house their inevitable death. What happens to the real estate agent or the various cops? With the exception of the different cast, Shimizu carbon copies his 2003 film, yet he fails to match the thrills and overall creepiness of Ju-on. Those unfamiliar with it may enjoy The Grudge, but Japanese horror enthusiasts will be gravely disappointed. Though the film itself may fail, the commentary is a good one that includes producer Sam Raimi, his brother and actor Ted, screenwriter Stephen Susco, Gellar and four other cast members. Beginning with the unforgettable opening scene with Bill Pullman (in which Behr shouts out, "nine-point-five"), the cast has a field day describing the film (i.e., Gellar reveals how her tattoos were a nuisance to hide). "A Powerful Rage" is a five-part featurette that offers a vast amount of behind the scenes footage and commentary, ranging from revealing neat filmmaking tricks to watching some dumb Americans partake in ancient Japanese customs. "Under the Skin" is a far better bonus, as it examines the viewer's response to scary films. Hosted by an actual doctor, the featurette is an intriguing look into the psychology behind watching the horror flick, and how and why we as viewers express our fear and become stimulated (including neat clips from William Castle's The Tingler, when he electrified seats in the cinemas). (Columbia/Sony)