Ebert: Entertainment Weekly: TV Guide:1/2
minor plot points revealed!
I know it's not like me to disagree with other reviewers but it's apparent that no one except me was able to enjoy The Grudge for what it was - a super fun jump out of your seat horror movie. Ebert's review is particularly embarrassing. It's as if he's slightly retarded or something as he describes his inability to follow the plot. Don't believe anything else you read about The Grudge. This is another one of those situations where I'm right and everybody else is wrong. (Actually the Seattle Post-Intelligencer saw the same movie I did, so feel free to read their review as well if you need a second opinion.)
The Grudge is, simply, one of the scariest movies I have ever seen in my life. Maybe I was in "the spirit" because it was actually Halloween and I was watching the film with a bunch of squeamish kids dressed up like witches and cowboys. Maybe it was because I had just seen SAW and hadn't been the least bit scared yet for the day. The fact is scary movies don't usually "scare" me unless something jumps out at the right time and says "boo!" And The Grudge has this in abundance.
The story is simple. At the beginning of the film we are told that "When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage a curse is born. The Curse gathers in that place of death. Those who encounter it will be consumed by it's fury." That's really all you need to know, Ebert. People died in this house in Japan. A boy, his cat, his mom and his dad died a horrific death there and now they haunt the house and all who enter it. There, was that so difficult to understand?
The Grudge, is a remake of the Japanese horror film Ju-On by Takashi Shimizu. It is part of the new Americanization of the Japanese horror genre that started with The Ring. The ring was creepy and scary. The Grudge takes all the best elements of The Ring and multiplies them by a hundred.
I love Japanese horror. I can understand why some don't. It's not the spoon fed blood and guts horror that American audiences require. It's also doesn't have elaborate or sometimes any explanation. It just is.
Because The Grudge is an American remake it does it's best to add more explanation to the events that are taking place, but there will still be many who don't understand that they don't need to understand to enjoy it.
The horror effects in the film are super scary. As I said, they are pretty much all of the jump out and say "boo!" variety but this does not diminish their scare factor. It's also worth mentioning that usually the "boo!' technique can only work a few times in a film before you are numb to it, this is not the case in The Grudge. Director Takashi Shimizu has somehow figured out a way to hit you with one "boo!" after another, over and over, from the beginning of the film to the very end. It never lest up. Even when you know it's coming! This is one of those films where I actually watched it at some times with one eye shut and my head turned so as not to have to take the full on fright of the "boo!" that I knew was coming. Now that is a good scary movie!
If you remember Samara, the little ghost girl from The Ring, then you can sort of imagine what the spooks are like in The Grudge. One of them even crawls down steps just like Samara! It's a creepy black and white 3-D video look with pale skin and wet hair that's accompanied by scary noises. It works well. The little kid ghost, seen over here on the left is pretty scary but it's his mother that provides the most and scariest moments in the film.
The actors in the film are all serviceable. Since everyone who enters the house is doomed, you soon realize that they are all also expendable. Sarah "Buffy" Michelle Gellar is the big name here and she does a fine job. It's a different twist to see her running from evil instead of battling against it. And she even gets to use some of her Scooby Doo powers of investigation to try and figure out what's going on. The only other big name actor is Bill Pullman. I like him and he does fine in a series of flashbacks that tell the back story that sets the whole thing in motion. The other person in the film you might recognize is Grace Zabriskie. She played Susan's mother, Mrs. Ross, on Seinfeld. She's a creepy looking old lady so she was perfect in her role.
Incidentally, the film was produced by Evil Dead and Spiderman director Sam Raimi. Raimi appears to be spreading around some of his Spider-wealth to help produce some of the new class of horror films. There's a preview for a film called Boogeyman, that is also produced by Raimi, shown before The Grudge. It's nice that he is helping the new kids in the genre that made him. It's also neat that he keeps his friends and family involved in all his projects. We often see Bruce "Ash" Campbell in Raimi directed films like Darkman and Spiderman. Sam's brother Ted has a small role in The Grudge and his producing partner, Rob Tappert, is married to Raimi's Xena: Warrior Princess Lucy Lawless who will appear in Boogeyman.
So there it is. I loved The Grudge. I can't wait to get it on DVD and next Halloween I'm gonna have a Japanese Horror movie festival to celebrate (This year it was a Dawn of the Dead zombie fest.) There was also a preview for The Ring sequel so I'm excited to see that as well. The Grudge was #1 at the theatre for the week of Halloween and the week before it so regardless of what the reviewers said people did go see it. You should too. It'll be OK on DVD if you wanna wait but there's something just a little more scary about seeing it in a dark thetre on the big screen surrounded by a bunch of kids who are ready to scream.
One more note, The Grudge is only rated PG-13. I consider this an accomplishment in and of itself. It's really scary and yet because it doesn't require excessive gore or swearing they were able to get this PG rating. Be warned though... It might be rated for kids but the scares will get you no matter how old you are!