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Overall Rating
3.32

Awesome: 15.07%
Worth A Look: 27.4%
Average39.73%
Pretty Bad: 9.59%
Total Crap: 8.22%

5 reviews, 43 user ratings


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Ju-On: The Grudge
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by EricDSnider

"Slightly better than the remade version."
3 stars

They're remaking foreign films into English-language ones so fast now that they've lapped themselves: "The Grudge" opens in theaters while "Ju-On: The Grudge," which it is based on, is still playing. I saw them within a week of each other (I saw the American one first, in case you're curious), and I quickly realized it was useless to try to write two reviews when they are essentially the same movie. Of course, "Chasing Liberty" and "First Daughter" were essentially the same movie, too, and I managed to review both of them, so maybe I'm just lazy. You be the judge.

Rarely, if ever, has a foreign film been remade so closely. Takashi Shimizu directed both versions, some of the dialogue is the same (though translated into English, of course), the plots are nearly identical. Shimizu even uses the same sets and actors in several instances.

All of which begs the question, why remake it at all? The answer, of course, is that with rare, martial-arts-oriented exceptions, subtitled foreign films do not fare well in American theaters. "Ju-On" would have topped out at around $50 million, at the very most, even if it were released on 3,000 screens; "The Grudge" will gross four times that, all because the characters speak English rather than Japanese.

"Ju-On" does it more episodically, with chapter titles declaring the name of that segment's main character, but both films tell the story of a house in Tokyo where a man once killed his wife and possibly his son and possibly himself. Now, several years later, all who enter the house seem to encounter a curse of some kind, insofar as they are soon beset by evil forces, haunted by the specters of the aforesaid wife and son, and eventually murdered.

The story is told out of sequence, jumping from past to present at various key moments, usually just as a person is being killed. This method mainly serves to make us think this ISN'T just a regular ol' story about a haunted house in which all occupants die one by one. It's particularly disorienting in the Japanese version, where unfortunately Shimizu cast actresses who look alike to play the various leads -- same hair style and length, same height, etc. I'm not saying ALL Japanese women look alike; I'm just saying the ones in "Ju-On" do. If you don't keep track of everyone's names, you're lost.

The American version streamlines it a bit, allowing for more focus on Sarah Michelle Geller's character, an American girl volunteering at a care center while her boyfriend (Jason Behr) goes to school. Gone are the original's subplots dealing with a detective who investigated previous murders and whose daughter came under the evil power of the house, too. I rather like that thread, as it shows the far-reaching power of the house, stretching across several years and affecting everyone even tangentially connected to it. The Geller version feels more compact, less broad in its scope, more like a traditional Hollywood thriller.

Both versions are very big on the jump-scares, where things occur suddenly and make you wet yourself. The appearance of the creepy androgynous Japanese boy (Yuya Ozeki) and his forlorn mother (Takako Fuji) is always a startling development, especially when either of them makes their weird bullfrog-croaking sound that is generally a harbinger of death. (The characters are played by the same actors in both films, which makes me wonder if they'll become typecast as creepy Japanese people who show up and kill you. Is there a big market for that?)

In fact, there is nearly enough atmosphere and general creepiness to make you forget that neither film really adds up to anything. We learn very early on that something awful happened in this house and now everyone who enters will die. Then, at the end of the film, we discover that, um, something awful happened in this house and now everyone who enters will die. There is no twist, no "reveal," no tying up of all the clues to make us see the clever plotting that was lurking beneath the surface all along. It's disappointing to realize that the film truly IS nothing more than a series of people dying, albeit in armrest-gripping fashion. It's good for a lark, but we usually like our thrillers to have something more to them.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8875&reviewer=247
originally posted: 08/09/05 17:28:57
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/27/15 brian Hoped this was better than dull US version. Not. 2 stars
3/01/08 Ivana Mann Incomprehensible snoozefest.2 hours of meowing ghost boy and groany, hairy ghost woman. Zzz 2 stars
2/16/07 Axel Leos A supreme example of Japanese horror... 5 stars
10/01/06 poker gambling 1 stars
8/08/06 K.Sear I realy enjoyed this movie but have not seen the original V-cinema version. I will though. 5 stars
10/28/05 HORROR FREAK Im a BIG HORROR FREAK and i have not found a movie that has really made me shit my self! 3 stars
8/14/05 Charlene Javier Hard to understand. 3 stars
7/22/05 Jordan okay I hated this movie USA version is better and has good graphics 1 stars
6/01/05 Indrid Cold Pretty good. Acheiving even moderate creepiness makes it above average. 4 stars
5/23/05 hk crap plot 1 stars
3/09/05 Uncle Phucker Some creepy scenes, but ultimately mediocre. 1 stars
2/06/05 clinger26 a crappy remake of a crappy movie 1 stars
2/05/05 rose the grudge is best movie out of all, all the stunts are real any other movie is fake. 5 stars
1/01/05 Raven Aren't remakes supposed to be of good movies? Not scary and there is no story at all. none. 1 stars
12/19/04 Daveman Nonsensical and not at all scary, I dread to think how crap the remake is. 2 stars
12/12/04 Goggman Seriously creepy 5 stars
11/26/04 Caiphn Convaluted, has it moments. Doesn't really come together unfortunately. 3 stars
11/23/04 haydon This movie is the scariest movie i've ever seen!........!..........!...........!..........! 5 stars
11/20/04 emily rak it was good, but very boring 4 stars
11/09/04 JL Loved It! 5 stars
11/08/04 Kevin You guys are talking about the wrong movie!! This page is for the Japanese version! >:( 5 stars
10/30/04 ali griffiths scared the living daylights out of me! 4 stars
10/26/04 David Milne Pretty Scary Movie 4 stars
10/26/04 bruce goldberg Geller was average.Movie slightly better than average 4 stars
10/25/04 aurora too many questions unanswered. generally lame. 2 stars
10/24/04 Nik Trailer gave away all the good scene. No character development...Boring 3 stars
10/23/04 davebo scary how confusing it is, and confusing why it isn't scary enough 3 stars
10/22/04 malcolm lots of good startles, but ultimately felt incomplete. several times i thought WTF?! 2 stars
9/06/04 Oscar Disturbing, eerie, and scary. I love that it is more focused on atmosphere than plot. 5 stars
8/25/04 Annie This movie and tv counterparts will have you crying for your mommy. 5 stars
8/24/04 timtop more thanthe sum of it's fragmented parts....loved it. Scary..and I'm hard as nails. 5 stars
8/21/04 Matt T. The film is good, but the remake should be better 4 stars
8/17/04 StümpA pretty weird...i liked it. for fans of those japanese ones 4 stars
8/10/04 kyotomatt The movie sucks. No understandable plot, just a bunch of SCARY GHOSTS. Incomplete. 2 stars
7/17/04 Ray Solid 4 stars
7/16/04 Oliver Has some good scares. 4 stars
7/05/04 Eric Han this movie has scared the shit out everyone who has seen it. thats what it was made for 5 stars
6/19/04 Jim A typically monocultural insight as the Japanese are far superior in the horror genre 4 stars
5/29/04 Ali pretty freaky and demented at times (espically when your high) 4 stars
5/28/04 madman Tries to be scary the whole time. It succeds half of it. You may be anoyed for the rest. 4 stars
5/18/04 taintedlunch Creepy, but nonsensical. Remake should be better. 4 stars
4/24/04 Brip Weinberg is wrong...not boring...surreal, unnerving, superior treatment than Western junk. 4 stars
3/29/04 Kyle The made for TV version was MUCH MUCH MUCH freakier 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  23-Jul-2004 (R)
  DVD: 09-Nov-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Takashi Shimizu

Written by
  Takashi Shimizu

Cast
  Megumi Okina
  Misaki Ito
  Misa Uehara
  Yui Ichikawa
  Kanji Tsuda
  Kayoko Shibata



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