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Grudge, The

Japan, USA (2004), 92 wet-your-pants minutes
Starring: Sarah Michelle Geller, Jason Behr, Clea DuVall, Bill Pullman and Ted Raimi
Reviewer: Val Frost
Genre: Horror
Rating: 5

Okay, I usually review Chinese films and the one time I strayed was for Ringu—a Japanese film. Well I just feel like being goddamn different here, so bear with me.

The Grudge, for those of you who don’t know, is an American remake of Ju-On: The Grudge by the same director—Takashi Shimizu. So, what this dude did is make his movie in Japan, and then since it was a hit, he made it again for American audiences. The interesting thing is, the remake is still set in Japan, but the plot is re-tooled for American audiences. And it makes a huge difference.

So……the plot. There is this house and in the house, some major shit happens. Now in the Japanese version, we don’t know just what that is, but in the American version, we do (this is one of the major differences between the two films and even the two cultures: in Japan, no real explanation is needed or expected, but for us over here, we crave the “why”” behind it all. And DAMN, it’s the why that makes it all more creepy). So anyway, this husband goes ape-shit and murders his wife and little boy. Three years later a transplanted American family moves into the house and right away things… just get weird. The house is always a mess, the elderly mother becomes catatonic and the feeling-out-of-place wife, Jennifer (DuVall), is creeped out by both the mother’s stirrings and the house in general. Then… well, then other stuff happens.

That is one part of the story. Another part of the story deals with Yoko, a young Japanese health-care student who is sent to the house to take care of the elderly mother. And yet another part of the story centers around Karen (Geller) who has come to Japan to be with her boyfriend (Behr) who is attending school in Tokyo. When Yoko doesn’t show up for work one day (hint, hint), Karen is sent to look after the mother (It seems that Karen is also a student in the heath center).

And more stories! Yeah, two more, one with the Jennifer’s sister-in-law and one with a transplanted American Professor (Pullman). And the cop! DON’’T FORGET THE COP!!

Anyway, anyway, anyway…… you get the idea. You have to watch it for any of it to make linear sense. Let’s talk about the frights here……Really, it’s the images that make you want to crawl under the blanket and cry. Okay, maybe not under a blanket, but what I really mean is rip your eyes out with a plastic fork. And really, you see them coming, you KNOW something is about to happen AND IT DOESN’’T FUCKING MATTER. Holy mother of God I jumped out of my seat several times and finally had to call my boyfriend (okay I mean my mommy) and have him come over and protect me from the mother fucking she-boogeyman under the bed. Jesus-Christ-up-a-goddamn-Christmas-tree I had to actually put the movie in AGAIN just so I could see if I could just get over the images. Yeah, didn’’t work. I’’m still scared.

What I found rather interesting here too is that I had already seen Ju-on and thought “eh… no big deal” ya know. It was no Ringu. Major credit must go to Shimizu for taking his film and making it thoroughly American without losing anything. Shoot, he pumped this mother up! The plots between the two are essentially the same; one story is lost (the three school girls) and one gained (the Professor) in the remake. But what really just pushes you over the edge is the back-story of the original killings. Without that, Ju-on is simply a creepy story with some kinda scary images. But in the remake, it makes all the difference. The back-story and some fucked up editing and sound effects… watch it with your mother. And a diaper. In the morning. With the lights on.