The Grudge 2 Takashi Shimizu

Picking up where the first instalment left off, The Grudge 2 delves deeper into the history of that horrific curse born of rage. When the actions that student-nurse Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Gellar) thought would stop "the grudge” actually spiral out of control in an ever-expanding circle that no longer has it confined to the haunted house where it first began, a disparate number of individuals are stalked and killed by the ghosts of Kayako (Takako Fuji) and Toshio (Ohga Tanaka) while trying to outrun the curse.

Karen’s less ambitious sister Aubrey (Amber Tamblyn) arrives in Tokyo in time to see her sister’s brutal demise and then investigate her way into becoming the movie’s unenviable haunted heroine. At the same time, also in Tokyo, a trio of international high school students experience the curse, which ultimately leads to a Chicago building that opens the doors for a third instalment that might be strictly located in the U.S.

Frankly, that would be a shame since much of the texture and atmosphere of the movies are derived from its alien-to-Westerners environment. Director Takashi Shimizu, who also helmed the Japanese originals, maintains the creepiness of the ghostly J-horror genre with longhaired, white-skinned ghosts that creep along slowly and appear at odd angles, making for some truly frightening images.

Unfortunately, he also tends more towards sounds that shock, as well as cheesy schlock, the latter causing rounds of unintentional laughter. There’s also gaps in logic, like when gaijin Aubrey has no difficulty travelling by train and bus to a remote village to find an old woman who (luckily!) just happens to speak English.

While not a flawless horror film, The Grudge 2 offers a decent alternative to the brutal hack and slash blood fests that comprise current Hollywood horror.

(Sony)