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Overall Rating

Awesome: 15.07%
Worth A Look: 27.4%
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 Scott Weinberg

"Three yawns for every scare...but at least they're good scares."
3 stars

Compared to the more familiar American fare, Japanese horror films seem to take a decidedly different approach to delivering the goods. In other words, they're kind of boring. It's not hard to understand why many consider the U.S. version of 'The Ring' an improvement over its source material, and one suspects that the upcoming remake of 'The Eye' could follow the same pattern: retain all the clever concepts and creepy ideas that made the first entry so popular, and then replace the big yawning stretches of arid narrative with a plot that actually commands one's interest. Frankly, an American version of 'The Grudge' could turn out a huge improvement over this one. Call it culture-clash if you must, but boredom is a universal language...and much of 'The Grudge' bored me.

The tough part is describing the plot of The Grudge while avoiding the term "Entirely Familiar Haunted House Flick" - but that's essentially what we've got here.

A pretty young social worker is commanded to visit with a sickly old woman and ascertain why there's been no recent contact from the woman's family. After arriving at the house and discovering a huge mess all over the place, our cautious young do-gooder comes across something...evil!

And then back and forth we skip, from recent past to near-future, as several other unfortunate souls stop by the same house and realize way too late that there's something horrible and hungry within the walls of the dastardly domicile. Neighbors, friends, sisters-in-law, policemen, you name it. People keep wandering it; very few end up wandering out.

When The Grudge (which is a remake of an earlier Japanese TV production) focuses on the scary stuff, there's no shortage of fun to be found. And there are several moments of quietly effectiveness creepiness. But there are also huge gaping stretches (mainly in Acts 2 and 3) where pretty much nothing happens. Characters hastily introduced (and therefore not all that interesting) are afforded huge blocks of pointless backstory and meandering subplot, and the result is a movie that gets looser at the precise moment it should be getting tighter.

Perhaps it's just that American horror flicks are usually boring at the beginning and then end with a bang, so it's that reversal of narrative that had me yawning so profusely. One thing that seems universal: all of The Grudge's best moments (and to be fair, there are a several) were shown in its trailer. So at the point where you're supposed to be the most chilled and horrified, what you're left thinking is: oh yeah, this is that scene with the blanket that I saw in the trailer!

The Grudge is basically a modern take on a hoary old ghost story. As can be expected from most Japanese horror flicks, a truly creepy little child is the source of all the rampant evilness. If you took the five or six best sequences from The Grudge, and you transplanted them into a movie that already had five or six solid scares of its own, well then you'd have something.

There's an admirably downbeat air of doom & gloom laden throughout 'The Grudge'. But unfortunately it's tough to maintain a tone of consistent creepiness when the movie stops for 20 minutes at a time with nary a single "Boo!" I'm all for a horror movie taking its time and setting up the scares, but 'The Grudge' is a schizophrenic little affair, and a film that often seems to forget that it's a horror movie.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 03/24/04 07:56:28
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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
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  23-Jul-2004 (R)
  DVD: 09-Nov-2004



Directed by
  Takashi Shimizu

Written by
  Takashi Shimizu

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

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