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The Grudge /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, Clea DuVall, Bill Pullman, Kadee Strickland

Directed by: Takashi Shimizu

Produced by: Taka Ichise, Roy Lee, Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Doug Davison, Nathan Kahane
Written by:
Stephen Susco
Distributor: Columbia Pictures


Sarah Michelle Gellar in Columbia Pictures' The Grudge
Jason Behr in Columbia Pictures' The Grudge
Kadee Strickland in Columbia Pictures' The Grudge

     Technically, there are two genres in which one could classify The Grudge. The distributor would like theatre-patrons to think that it is both horror film and a remake, and I suppose they’re right, using the by-the-numbers definitions to prove their identifications of it. In truth, however, it is most correctly dubbed “a movie about nothing.” The score reaches its crescendo a lot, the camera swoops and wiggles even more, and occasionally a little boy who turns into a bizarre looking cat comes out to play. But, even with these indications that the plot will begin to move somewhere at some point during the film’s duration, it never does. As the credits rolled at my screening, I was tempted to ask the manager if one of his employees had mistakenly put the outtakes-reel into the projector. Did Columbia Pictures really have the guts to release something of such a nature? You ‘betcha; it’s all in the art of solid cash flow. 

     I’m sitting here, a little over a week after seeing the film on opening day, and I’m still trying to make sense of it. I’ve paged through positive reviews of The Grudge over the past eight days, and tried to find out why it is scary. A few critics are very detailed about the scenes that they were “horrified” by, but none have explained why, exactly, they were so shocked. I just don’t understand. I’m sorry. The day that Osama bin Laden releases a new set of threatening tapes, people are still being scared by a little cat-boy? I’m also pretty sure that more chills came out of seeing Halle Berry as the female version of such, for me.

     Sarah Michelle Gellar leads the cast as Karen, a part-time caretaker for the elderly. She is assigned, one day, to look after the always-asleep Emma (Grace Zabriskie), when her usual nurse, Yoko (Yoko Maki), does not show up for work. Little does Karen know, Yoko was slain in the attic by…something…on the previous day. Scary? Don’t think so? Oh well. Little does Karen know, that…something…might come after her. Scary? Don’t think so? Oh well. Little does Karen know, there was a violent past occurrence in the house which made that…something…come alive. Scary? Don’t think so? Oh well. Little does Karen know, her boyfriend might fall into the trap of that…something…later on in the movie. Scary? Don’t think so? Oh well.

     Since The Grudge is not scary, it turns out to be boring. And very, very boring, at that. Takashi Shimizu, who directed the original Japanese film Ju-On, was hired to head this remake. That marked “Bad Move #1” by Columbia, in the handling of this film. (No, I will not go down this list; it’s far too long for me to waste my time.) Shimuzu has a set of skills which often works in Japanese horror. He is clearly fond of long, extended takes with a few quick jolts in them. These function in the confines of nativity rather well, but when Americanizing them, the result proves to be downright silly. Not only does the style of The Grudge, itself, lack the energy needed for it to qualify as a campy delight, but all of the actors desperately underplay their characters. Gellar, as likeable as she is, looks like she’s still adjusting her sleeping patters to the Japanese time-zone, half of the time. No real hysterics and no real fright are to be found in her performance; they are lost in a sea of endless blandness.

     Capitalizing on the success of The Ring, another remake of a Japanese horror film, was a terrific idea, but who would of thought that such could ever be so dull? The Grudge makes for one hell of a snoozefest, but not much else. One thing’s for sure: I’d certainly rather be sitting around and handing out candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween than watching this pillowcase-reject again.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (11.10.2004)

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