Wednesday, 13th December 2017. 3:44:18pm ET
Reviews Movie Reviews The Grudge

 

Movie: The Grudge
Company: Lion's Gate
Format: DVD
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 3/11/05

The Grudge, the latest installment of Americanized Japanese horror, finds Sarah Michelle Gellar and Bill Pullman taking up residence in Takashi Shimizu's brilliant Ju-on: The Grudge. While Shimizu is still at the helm and some members of the original cast remain intact, this altered PG-13 remake is a far cry from the brilliant original…the original perhaps being one of the most frightening films I have ever seen.

Overall, The Grudge is essentially Ju-on lite. While the film maintains the original's disjointed timeline and a fair portion of the story basically remains intact, things have been dumbed down a bit for American audiences, with more explanation and a more straightforward delivery. There are a significant number of changes to the story and scares, though, with most of them detracting from the film and coming off as somewhat formulaic. The visual effects are more revealing, a bit gorier, and, ultimately, far less…well…effective than the original's more simplistic effects. As a result, even some of the simple scares imitated directly from the original, where they could easily cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand up, are ineffective here. There are a few spine-tingling moments, but the scares here are generally far less frequent and frightening than in the original, often being either predictable or overdone.

With a standard American horror look and soundtrack, the film's aesthetics don't really get the job done, either, at least in comparison to the original. The cast isn't really at fault here. They do a fairly respectable job with what they're given, even if the premise of all of the film's events happening to Americans who have recently moved to Japan is a hokey gimmick to facilitate the film's English language transition while retaining its Japanese setting. What is at fault is the overall composition of the film. While the American remake of The Ring perhaps contained even more effective atmospheric visuals and retained some sense of pacing and vibe from the Japanese original, The Grudge sucks the life out of its Japanese counterpart for a far less atmospheric film that often comes off as flat, stale, and lifeless.

If you've seen the original Japanese film, this considerably inferior and radically less frightening remake will likely prove a pretty big disappointment. If you're unfamiliar with the original, The Grudge is essentially the equivalent of a semi-effective and more-intelligent-than-average American PG-13 supernatural horror film with a few decent scares. For those that don't mind reading subtitles, I'd undoubtedly recommend the terrifying original over the tame remake, especially since both versions are now out on DVD in North America. Let's just hope that the relative success of this inferior Americanized version prompts Lion's Gate to import Shimizu's other Japanese Ju-on films.


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