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The Grudge 2 DVD Review

The Grudge 2

February 21, 2007

Director: Takashi Shimizu,
Starring: Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel, Jennifer Beals, Edison Chen, Sarah Roemer, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Christopher Cousins, Teresa Palmer, Joanna Cassidy,

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DVD Review

Was this a sequel that really needed to be made? The previous film was a remake of the Japanese horror film, Ju-On (2003) and directed by the same filmmaker – Takashi Shimizu – but the American version felt like a diluted rehash that had its moments but did not come close to recapturing the creepy atmosphere of the original. However, money talks and The Grudge (2004) performed well enough at the box office that a sequel was quickly green-lighted with Shimizu returning along with his leading lady, Sarah Michelle Gellar. However, she takes a backseat on this one, allowing the talented Amber Tamblyn to star in her first horror film (I don’t really count her brief cameo in The Ring).

Amazingly, the cursed house where two families were brutally murdered is still standing – albeit uninhabited and in a terrible state of disrepair. Why hasn’t this place been destroyed? Of course, this doesn’t stop foolish schoolgirls from going inside and getting the crap scared out of them. When Aubrey Davis (Tamblyn) learns that her sister Karen (Gellar) has been hospitalized in Tokyo, their mother (Cassidy) orders her to fly to Japan and bring her older sibling home.

Aubrey and Karen are reunited but the older sister is still agitated and generally freaked out from her experiences. She is still haunted by the ghost of the wife that was killed in the house. While at the hospital, Aubrey meets Eason (Chen), a Japanese reporter who wants the inside scoop on Karen. After something terrible happens to her sister, Aubrey teams up with Eason to find out what the deal is with the house and a re-examination of her strained relationship with Karen. Paralleling this story is another one set in Chicago with a family that has just moved into an apartment building that is inexplicably inhabited by the ghost of the little boy that was murdered in the house in Japan.

The Grudge 2 ambitiously tries to juggle three separate storylines: Aubrey’s investigation into what happened to her sister, the family in Chicago and the three schoolgirls who went into the cursed house at the beginning of the film. However, Shimizu does this with varying degrees of success. He throws in a few chilling images out there but the scares are telegraphed a mile away. After four Japanese films and a remake, does he really have anything new to say? The screenplay by Stephen Susco features annoying gaps in logic (especially the Chicago storyline) with characters doing things that just aren’t believable. The film is also poorly plotted, lacking coherence at times and being way too predictable so there’s no climax. This film’s only purpose, it seems, is to begin the cycle anew.

Special Features:

“East Meets West” features one of the executive producers talking about how several Hollywood studios wanted to get rid of the ambiguity of the original film and that was something he did not want to lose. This extra examines the differences between J-horror and its American counterpart as well.

“The Grudge 2: Storyline Development” kicks things off by explaining how this sequel was green-lighted even before the first film was released (the test screenings were very positive, apparently). Shimizu kept pushing for more ambiguity and presenting the horror his way vs. the studio insisting on a more traditional approach.

“Ready When You Are, Mr. Shimizu” explores his “unique” vision as he is the creator of the mythology of this film series. Everyone speaks admiringly of his vision while the cast talk about his knack for practical jokes.

“Cast and Crew Reel Change Montage” is a collection of light-hearted moments captured before a take and set to the film’s spooky score.

Finally, there are three deleted scenes that feature a few more scares and more of Aubrey doing research on the background of the curse.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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