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Overall Rating
2.67

Awesome: 19.84%
Worth A Look: 8.73%
Average: 22.22%
Pretty Bad: 16.67%
Total Crap32.54%

7 reviews, 84 user ratings


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Grudge, The (2004)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Shallow American remake; goes for shock over spook."
2 stars

Who exactly has a grudge against whom in 'The Grudge'? Having just seen the movie, I still don't quite know.

What I can tell you while shunning spoilers is this: Something bad, evil, happened in a Tokyo house, and the sheer bad vibes of the event have trapped its victims inside as yowling, crawling ghosts that apparently scare people to death. Such ghost stories are common in every storytelling culture, of course, but the Japanese have a long tradition of taking vengeful spirits seriously, in life as well as in art (Kabuki theater was devoted to tales of wrathful female ghosts for much of the 18th century). But what if the rightful target of supernatural rage is already dead? Then, I guess, the grudge is reserved for anyone foolish enough to enter the place of tragedy.

And there are quite a lot of fools in The Grudge. Its nonlinear plot aside, the movie -- a reworking of a story told in two TV movies and two theatrical films in Japan -- is little more than a series of scenes in which one character after another ventures slowly, sloooowly, into a dark and creepy place while the audience waits for the big jump moment. This happens so often that the repetitiveness begins to strike the audience funny, a fatal response to a movie that takes itself so deadly, glumly seriously. The Grudge, directed by Takashi Shimizu (who helmed the previous four incarnations), is a gray and dreary affair that seems inspired less by great Japanese horror (Kwaidan or Onibaba, to name just two) than by whatever's making kids spill their popcorn these days: M. Night Shyamalan's films, The Eye, Ringu and its American remake, and so on.

Instead of transplanting the story to America, as The Ring did, producer Sam Raimi chose to keep the action in Tokyo but with a mainly American cast, which requires the new screenwriter to draft bad expository dialogue explaining why various unconnected Americans are hanging out in Japan. Sarah Michelle Gellar, for instance, is there because her boyfriend is studying architecture there (though we know she's really there because she needs a non-Scooby Doo hit after Buffy). Hired to take the place of a health-care worker who's mysteriously disappeared, Gellar goes to the aforementioned bad-vibe house to look after a catatonic woman (Grace Zabriskie, cast as usual for her spooky thousand-yard stare that's kept food on her table since Twin Peaks). People begin to freak out and die. Gellar is traumatized, then is forced to return to the house. It all has something to do with an English professor (Bill Pullman) and a Japanese woman who shows up in the background of every photo of him.

Some have said that 2003's Ju-On: The Grudge, which got a limited run in theaters earlier in the year, makes very little sense unless you've seen the two TV movies before it. The new American version is nonsense squared; once the mystery of the motivating event is revealed, there are no other twists in store, and the movie ends on a cheap, unresolved note that unreasonably demands we return for a sequel. Gellar is reduced to a wimpier version of Buffy, looking as though she needs a Giles to explain everything. The closest she gets is a Japanese detective played by Ryo Ishibashi, of Suicide Circle and Takashi Miike's notorious Audition; Ishibashi has had better days, as has Clea DuVall, who has a couple of scenes before turning up quivering and shell-shocked in bed. She's not the only one to flee to bed; the movie's biggest laugh comes when yet another victim of the ghosts locks herself in her apartment, jumps into bed, and pulls the covers up to her face like a kid spooked by a scary movie -- though probably not this one.

The Grudge doesn't even work as a travelogue of Japanese spiritual beliefs, and it very well could have. By having a bunch of Americans in the cast led by the callow Gellar, the movie could have taken the opportunity to educate us ignorant gaijin about, say, Shinto, or the noble history of spirits in religion and art. Instead, the story might as well be set in Cleveland, and it adds the weird subtext of Americans being terrified by damp-haired Japanese women.

At least 'The Ring' took what was universally eerie about 'Ringu' and Americanized it; 'The Grudge' just cannibalizes itself, exploiting Japanese spirituality for a few Saturday-night shocks to make teenagers shriek and giggle.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11076&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/24/07 12:41:08
[printer] printer-friendly format  
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

3/25/14 shvydedejso USA 3 stars
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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