topfivefilms.com Tuesday 18th January 2022
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The Grudge (15)
Directed by: Takashi Shimizu
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

I’ve never been a fan of the horror genre, but if there’s a kind of horror movie I do like, it’s Japanese ones. From Ringu to Audition, Japanese horror films get inside your head and creep you out much more effectively than watching some slasher-flick in which a seemingly unkillable, crazed moron hacks up a load of American teenagers while they scream and run to the one part of the house from which there is no escape.

Gellar - filling her pants
Gellar - filling her pants

The Grudge is a remake of one such Japanese horror film, albeit a remake with a few differences. For starters, The Grudge has actually been made five times, mostly in Japanese and with roughly the same plot each time. This version is almost an exact remake of the 2003 version, Ju-On, but with a few Americans thrown in for good measure. What’s even more unusual about these remakes though, is that the same director, Takashi Shimizu, has made all of them.

The story is of a house in Japan that is now cursed, after the family in residence died in a rather horrific way. Three years after the death of the residents, a new family of Americans move there (trust the gaijin to pick the haunted house) and quickly start to disappear. Before long, Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is sent to the house as part of a care for the elderly scheme, where she witnesses some pretty crazy stuff, but escapes with her life – temporarily, at least.

The Ju-On that I have seen was genuinely chilling, if a little confusing and while this is almost an exact replica of that film, some alterations have been made. The story is still shown out of sequence, but it is much clearer to follow the timeline and how and why the characters are dying in this retelling. The film concentrates a bit more on how the house became cursed in the first place and loses some of the creepy side stories from Ju-On, to the detriment of the film. Some of the best material has therefore been lost and while the back-story helps the viewer to understand what is happening, you lose the edge of a house killing people relentlessly, by knowing why it is doing it.

Things move along a lot more swiftly in this film – in fact you’re plunged right in to the horror from the outset, instead of taking the approach of setting up a pleasant idyll at the beginning to shatter to shatter later on. Takashi Shimizu has also stopped trying to force startling moments in to the film by crashing out a loud musical chord whenever someone unexpected appears, instead reserving that trick only for the really scary bits.

Overall, The Grudge is fairly scary, although it’s hard for this critic to judge as I knew from watching Ju-On when all the scary bits were coming. Having seen both versions at the cinema, I can safely say the screams from the audience were a lot louder and more frequent during the original Japanese Ju-On, but if you want to see a horror film and don’t feel up to sitting through a fairly obscure subtitled feature, then go and watch this remake – it is probably the best scary movie to be released this year.

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Length: 91 minutes
Certificate: 15
Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/thegrudge/
IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0391198/
Release Date: 5th November 2004

Top Five Rating: 70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0% (70.0%)
User Rating: 0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0% (0.0%)

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