Movie Name: The Grudge
Studio: Ghost House Pictures
Release Date(s): October 22, 2004
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Evil occurs in a home in Japan…and it refuses to let go, spreading like an infection. When Matthew Williams (William Mapother) and his wife Jennifer (Clea DuVall) move into the home with his ailing mother Emma (Grace Zabriskie), they succumb to the black haired woman Kayako Saeki (Takako Saeki) who haunts the home with her pale, meowing child Toshio (Yuya Ozeki). An American hospice worker named Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Gellar) who goes to home to check on Emma next feels the wrath of the grudge. Will the evil trapped in the home ever be stopped or will the horror spread?
Directed by Takashi Shimizu who directed the original Japanese film Ju-on: The Grudge, The Grudge was met with mixed reviews but has since gained a cult following and multiple sequels.
The movie like many Japanese horror imports has a strange “non-American” feel to it. When the flood of Japanese imports occurred in the early 2000s, the movies all seemed to contain common threads and threats to the main characters. This ghost story is no different with a strange mewling kid and a long-haired woman who brings terror to whoever sees her, much like The Ring (or Ringu).
I do find this film unnerving despite not having much of a plot. Some things are scary to me like the creepy sounds and the horror of not knowing what is coming around the corner, but other aspects leave me flat…like the hand in the hair which always just seems goofy to me. I do feel there are some really intense moments in this film, but it is bogged down by the overly complex non-linear story.
The decision to keep this movie in Japan was an interesting one (especially since the director was virtually directing the same film he directed earlier). When compared to Ju-on: The Grudge, this version has a little more cohesion in plot. Both films present the story in a non-linear style, but this story eliminates some of the subplots of Ju-on: The Grudge to put more focus on Sarah Michelle Geller’s character.
I do feel a bit bad for the Williams family story. I generally like Clea DuVall and William Mapother, but they don’t really get to do much in a story that is as full as it is. I thought DuVall’s character was quite interesting as a woman so out of place in a world she doesn’t understand (the little scene in the grocery store was unnecessary, but telling) and would have liked to have seen more of their story along with that of Mapother’s sister Susan (KaDee Strickland) who meets Kayako under the sheets of her bed (and not mentioned again).
The Grudge is a very traditional style horror film presented in a non-traditional way. The idea of a haunted house has kind of been abandoned for more tales of possession and slashers. It is nice to get back to some of the roots of horror, despite the unnecessary steps the film takes. The Grudge was followed by The Grudge 2 in 2006 which continued the story.
Ju-on (Ju-on: The Grudge) (2003)
The Grudge 2 (2006)
The Grudge 3 (2009)