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Overall Rating
2.66

Awesome: 20%
Worth A Look: 8.8%
Average: 21.6%
Pretty Bad: 16.8%
Total Crap32.8%

7 reviews, 83 user ratings


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Grudge, The (2004)
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by Jay Seaver

"I can't help but compare it to the one-year-old movie it remakes."
3 stars

How annoyingly provincial are we Americans? Last year, Ju-on: The Grudge was one of the standouts at the first Boston Fantastic Film Festival; one of the most genuinely creepy horror movies I'd seen in a while. A year later, it got a brief U.S. release, but it took remaking it in English with American actors to get people in the theaters. The American Grudge is a fine enough movie, though I didn't find it quite so scary as the original.

Of course, any ghost story is going to lose a little something the second time you hear it. It's also an incredibly transparent remake - not only are some of the actors playing the same characters they played in Ju-on: The Grudge, but I wouldn't be surprised if the same locations were used. In essence, screenwriter Stephen Susco basically replaced some Japanese characters with American analogs, keeping the story in Tokyo. It's kind of an odd experience to see the movie set in Japan but starring all these Caucasian folks.

I'm semi-ashamed to say it did make things easier for me. The movie, like it predecessor, does sort of jump around in time without establishing captions, and it's easier to tell the two nurses apart if one is Japanese and one is blonde. Understand, I'm an equal-opportunity idiot where characters of similar appearance are concerned, needing a scorecard to tell the white guys apart on Veronica Mars.

Of course, the trade-off is that by using Hollywood actors, the American audience is more aware of their relative star power or their position in the credits and thus their chance for survival. Sarah Michelle Gellar is the movie's biggest star and has her name before the title, so there's a good chance she'll last a while. Clea DuVall and Bill Pullman are billed with "With" and "And" respectively, which is often a good indication of a "brief but pivotal" role. Of course, for all I know, Ju-on: The Grudge had the exact same issue in Japan.

There's also a Hollywood slickness to the production that threw me a bit. There is, I think, something to be said for keeping horror movies under a certain budget. The high production values communicate a certain amount of control that's antithetical to the lack thereof the audience should feel. Still, I give director Takashi Shimizu props for getting the big effects scene out of the way early. It's an unorthodox approach to give the audience a glimpse of what's hiding in the shadows and then rely on fear of it re-emerging afterward, as opposed to building up to a money shot.

I can't help but wonder how come the story didn't make a little more sense. This is Shimizu's fifth movie in the series, sort of - the lineage is complicated. As close as I can tell, The Grudge (2004) is a remake of Ju-on: The Grudge (2003), which was a theatrical sequel to Ju-on (a 2000 direct-to-video movie with a direct-to-video sequel); there's also a theatrical Ju-on: The Grudge 2. The Grudge refers to events from Ju-on (and may actually incorporate footage from the Japanese movies as backstory), although there's no need to see that movie (which is good, as it's not available in the USA). So, with all that practice, you'd think there'd be some rationale as to why the ghosts mutilate one character and leave another catatonic and make another just disappear. Nope. The randomness is arguably part of the horror, though, whether those of us who like rules feel it makes sense or not.

The cast is good at showing shock and fear as necessary. There are hints that Sarah Michelle Gellar's and Clea DuVall's characters are feeling somewhat adrift in Japan, but it never becomes a specific issue; the rest are mostly serviceable, with Bill Pullman seeming underused. Cult movie afficianados will grin at seeing Ted Raimi pop up; his brother Sam produced the film via the Ghost House banner (the only reason Ted isn't film's most enjoyable ongoing example of nepotism is that Clint Howard is even more funny-looking).

I've said it before, but it's surprising how much you can get away with and still get a PG-13 rating if you don't swear. This isn't Saw, but there's still some pretty gruesome shots for a movie that an eight-year-old can see without a parent. That's more an indication of the broken-ness of the ratings system than anything else; I see no reason to turn a teenager away from this movie, but I also see no reason to let anyone under thirteen in.

I've given this movie three stars, but because of how much I enjoyed Ju-on: The Grudge, it's a thoroughly second-guessed three stars. Maybe after I've talked to my brother (who hasn't seen the Japanese version), I'll be able to really make a guess at how good this movie is on its own.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11076&reviewer=371
originally posted: 10/26/04 14:56:20
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Leeds Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Leeds Film Festival series, click here.
Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Fell asleep to this one. 1 stars
10/01/08 Ashley Nicole Hendershot-Wetherington Spoof by Anna Faris in Scary Movie movies is much better. 3 stars
3/10/08 Jayme Isaacs I Really Liked The Grudge Remake 5 stars
9/18/07 Axel The Best horror movie EVER!!!! 5 stars
5/30/07 Charles Tatum Good and unsettling 4 stars
2/19/07 Scully I can breathe backwards slowly too but it doesn't make me scary. 1 stars
2/16/07 Axel Leos Terrifying and eerie 5 stars
1/22/07 jeannie karlsen I was shocked at how scary it was,however, sarah michelle gellar was average at best 4 stars
1/08/07 vero is scarry! i love horror movies but this is the only one that scared me and is hunting me 5 stars
12/08/06 Stanley Thai It's a scary film but it's an average movie, so it's a scary average movie. 3 stars
10/14/06 Chris A pathetic attempt with no plot and no scary scenes. It'd be darn easy to spoof though. 1 stars
10/02/06 Pritchett So bad it was funny, the audience kept laughing at the stupidity of it all. B-A-D movie. 1 stars
9/20/06 simm dis movie is real horrible dan others i hd ever seen 4 stars
9/03/06 Dragon The Artist Why do they let the Japanese even attempt to make horror films? 1 stars
8/29/06 K.Sear See, this is why remakes should be illegal. It's dumbed down for the American public. 1 stars
7/21/06 Frank Rountree good for a rainy day, fair, but just average 3 stars
11/27/05 cr a little confusing story, good acting, scary, but it just seem off 2 stars
11/23/05 Melissa Not scary at ALL, lost in plot, didn't know what was happening! 1 stars
10/28/05 chris good film 4 stars
10/25/05 Anika The Grudge kicks ass guys!! 5 stars
9/20/05 Carolyn Rathburn I was not impressed with this movie, it was just gore without truth 2 stars
9/13/05 bbbr scary suck 1 stars
8/29/05 CxJx scary shit 5 stars
8/17/05 ES I found this movie getting back to the roots of the horror I loved as a kid= scary stuff 5 stars
8/04/05 ^podo not very scary but very entertaining 4 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins Japanese influence makes this very interesting. Like it lots. 4 stars
7/22/05 Jordan okay I hate you all for saying this movie sucked its better the LOTR.....rawr!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/20/05 Sir Dude What's this? Hollywood remakes an asian movie, again?! You bastards.. 1 stars
7/14/05 betty i love the gor 5 stars
7/03/05 Eddie WTF 1 stars
7/02/05 ira manley too scary for me 5 stars
6/08/05 John boring and doesn't make sense 1 stars
6/05/05 Charlene Javier Better the second time around. 3 stars
6/03/05 Christy Schultz not bad..hoped for better 3 stars
6/02/05 Ole Man Bourbon enough with the stupid girl. btw, the boy meeowing is the funniest thing since magnolia 2 stars
5/24/05 E-FUNK I've got a grudge with this piece of shit remake... leave the originals alone! 1 stars
4/22/05 Pippin007 NOT SCARY!!!! The story doesn't make sense!! 1 stars
4/15/05 ELI arg. scary... almost as idiotic as the original. Someone should shoot the director.he sucks 1 stars
4/15/05 ELI arg. scary... almost as idiotic as the original. Someone should shoot the director.he sucks 1 stars
3/22/05 Gomer Uh, I think I was scared. Nope. 3 stars
2/25/05 Comixchick One...long...boring...not-scary...zzzzzzzzz....... 2 stars
2/17/05 Rachel Neely Not as creepy as I'd hoped, but still entertaining. 4 stars
2/08/05 Raul Valdez looks scary as hell 5 stars
2/06/05 clinger26 as crappy as the asian version 1 stars
2/03/05 Meredith Harshaw The kinda horror flick of which too many get made -- eerie, but makes no real sense. 1 stars
2/03/05 Heather Purplethorne Threatens to be Sarah Michelle Gellar's breakthrough role but ultimately wastes her. 1 stars
2/02/05 BobbysRedQueen Another Horrible Movie ! Should have been a comedy ! 1 stars
12/26/04 Freddy retarded movie and terrible ending. horrible waste of $$$ 1 stars
12/05/04 da hood' almost as bad as ANCHORMAN! Fucking horrible!!!!!!! 1 stars
12/03/04 jasmine platts this film is grate an dterifying its the best horro film ive seen 5 stars
11/25/04 Caity i thought it was reli good, lots of shock parts 5 stars
11/23/04 Mockingbird So Rotten that I wasn't even scared and I'm scared of everything. Why Geller? 2 stars
11/22/04 Tanya A major dissapointment! Is not worth going to see it... at all! 1 stars
11/22/04 Bobby Creepy and scary, but it had no character development!! Gellar was underused. 4 stars
11/21/04 John Bale A fine essay in the supernatural, albeit Oriental style, despite Gellar. 5 stars
11/20/04 Archanist_101 Not the best & scariest film for this year... But it beats "The Ring"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
11/19/04 Khalecia stop hatin who ever thought it was crud! 5 stars
11/18/04 Courtney Bradley It freaked me out, They should Make a 2nd one. 5 stars
11/17/04 Sesilia Godoy 3 stars
11/16/04 Christina Sullivan THE MOVIE WAS GREAT! 5 stars
11/15/04 Naturezrevenge A sad and predictable re-make of the original. Terrible acting and pitiful timing. Pathetic 1 stars
11/14/04 psycho black dwarf guilty of being completely unnerved by a horror flick that blew it's load in the 1st act! 4 stars
11/08/04 ashley i loved it! it was the most scariest movie i've ever seen since The Ring!!! 5 stars
11/05/04 missy krook teh best movie i ahve seen in a while 5 stars
11/03/04 Al Guy It had the set pieces in place to be scary-BUT, it wasn't! Kids laughed in the theater. Ugg 2 stars
11/02/04 Momo The real terror… People paying to watch a bad version of a good movie… 2 stars
11/01/04 Jeff Terrible, not scary at all, just a blatant ripoff of 'The Ring' 1 stars
10/28/04 Ramona Lee So disappointed! 2 stars
10/28/04 Kris almost as bad as a night with Ben Affleck. 1 stars
10/27/04 Ray Bah 1 stars
10/27/04 mason I've seen scarier Scooby-Doo episodes, shame on you Mr. Raimi... 1 stars
10/26/04 Mike Doyle vivid, entertaining, and hair raising, good time 5 stars
10/26/04 Thran Not terrifying, but atmospheric and creepy. 5 stars
10/26/04 Sonny it was ok....ring was better. 3 stars
10/25/04 Manchild Fun for what it is. Not as dark as the ring. Scare factor depends on the individual 3 stars
10/25/04 BrianWilly Awesome horror flick, one of the best I've seen. 5 stars
10/25/04 karen i love it 5 stars
10/25/04 Naka Not at all thrilling or frightening. Just dumb and cheap. 2 stars
10/24/04 moviedude could do worse, but not a horror classic 4 stars
10/24/04 Dark Romance More of The Ring, but like Ring, super creepy 5 stars
10/24/04 Chelsea This movie hurt me it was so bad. 1 stars
10/24/04 Ebert Rogers Horrible! But somewhat funny. 1 stars
10/24/04 John Olson Crittics be damned!!!!! This is scarier that the ring, I go to a horror movie for the thril 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Oct-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 17-May-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  18-Nov-2004




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