something not right in this house"
After moving to Tokyo with her boyfriend Doug (Behr), Karen
(Gellar) finds herself a job as a care assistant to an American family living
in the city. When she arrives at the house, she finds it in total disarray
and Emma (Zabriskie), the elderly woman she supposed to be looking after,
struggling on the floor petrified with fright. As she gets Emma back into
bed and begins to tidy the house, Karen starts to realise that she is not
The trend of remaking hit Japanese horror movies for American
audiences continues but 'The Grudge' is very different.
Instead of hiring a western director and giving the movie
a Hollywood shake up, the studio heads at Universal made the best possible
decision. They hired the original film's director, Takashi Shimizu. Giving
him complete control, the studio allowed the director to basically remake
his original movie but exchange some of the Japanese cast with American
talent. They also allowed him to film the movie in Tokyo and use the original
actors that terrified Far Eastern audiences so comprehensively. Asian cinema
is becoming the new hotbed of talent in the Horror genre.
After the success of the Ringu series, Dark Water, The Eye
and many others, the Hollywood bigwigs has started to take notice. The Grudge
is the first movie from Evil Dead and Spider-Man helmer Sam Raimi's Production
Company, Ghost House Pictures and it is the horror maestro that allows Shimizu
to bring his story of vengeful spirits to an English speaking audience.
The Asian horror theme has moved away from the usual Hollywood horror stance
that sees teenagers become the bloody victims of masked killers. Instead
they have embraced the supernatural, as extremely evil spirits kill indiscriminately,
whatever age or gender. As an alternate to gore and excessive killings,
these movies rely on shock scares and genuine creepiness that will send
shivers down your spine and make you jump out of your skin. This is a quite
refreshing approach that has injected some much-needed freshness into what
was becoming a very stale genre.
Shimizu's Japanese original was a low budget affair that
contained some good frights and random scares. Now Ghost House has given
him the budget and the technical means to push his vision to its visual
limits. In a very rare instance, this remake actually improves on the original.
While we have to endure the inclusion of American stars, this is a help
not a hindrance to the film. He keeps the character driven mini stories
but forgoes some of the lesser tales that interrupted the flow of the original.
Now the film revolves around Sarah Michelle Gellar's Karen and the Williams
family who have moved into the house. The movie still jumps around the timeline,
introducing a character and then showing their backstory or involvement
with the house, but now the film is far more coherent and logical than the
The performances are also better. Sarah Michelle Gellar is
still trying to shake the ghost of Buffy but she will insist on acting in
films with a supernatural content. Her performance is good with her looking
petrified when she needs to be and screaming at all the right moments. Jason
Behr, Ted Raimi and Bill Pullman are also good. Returning to their roles
from the original, Yuya Ozeki and Takako Fuji as Toshio and Kayako, the
angry spirits that haunt the house, now look even more terrifying. The film
is mainly about them or their presence and the rest of the cast are just
their victims in waiting.
The Grudge is a rare remake that surpasses the original. Even
though the backstory could do with more explanation, the plot soul purpose
is to scare you and it certainly succeeds in that. It isn't as frightening
as The Eye, Ringu or Dark Water but it does have some extremely good jumpy
moments. Takashi Shimizu has been given the backing to bring the ultimate
version of his movie to the screen and points the way for future Hollywood
remakes of hit Asian movies by getting the original director and crew involved.
Presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen with a Dolby Digital
5.1 surround soundtrack, this is an excellent transfer. Takashi Shimizu's
re-imagining of his Japanese frightener has never looked so good or scary.
The sound is also first rate, as the noise of the ghost fills the speakers
and completely terrifies you.
Cast and Crew Commentary
Producers Sam Raimi and Rob Tapet, screenwriter Stephen Susco and stars
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, KaDee Strickland, Clea DuVall and Ted
Raimi bring you a very chatty and funny commentary track. All of them are
very passionate about the film, their characters and working with Takashi
Shimizu. They highlight the differences between the original and the remake
and what it was like working in Japan and the cultural differences between
Japanese and Hollywood filmmaking. This is a really entertaining commentary
track with all of the eight contributors having their say on their experiences
with the movie. A
Powerful Rage:Behind the Grudge (48.28 mins)
Split into five parts entitled 'The Birth of the Grudge', 'Myth of the Ju-On',
'Culture Shock: The American Cast in Japan', 'Designing the Grudge house'
and 'A new direction: Understanding Takashi Shimizu', these chapters take
you behind the scenes of the Grudge and show you how the remake came about.
Director Takashi Shimizu, producer Sam Raimi, screenwriter Stephen Susco,
production designer Iwao Saito, producer Rob Tapet and stars Sarah Michelle
Gellar, Jason Behr, KaDee Strickland, Clea DuVall, Bill Pullman, Ryo Ishibashi,
Yoko Maki and Grace Zabriskie talk about all the aspects of the film's production,
the reason for remaking the film and the revolutionary approach of having
the original Japanese director in charge of the remake. The featurette cover
casting, showcase the minimal use of CG, the design of the haunted house
and the differences between Japanese and Hollywood filmmaking. These featurettes
offer a fascinating insight into the making of the movie and cover most
aspects of its production.
Under the Skin with Joseph Leboux, PhD (12.29 mins)
Noted behavioural scientist Joseph Leboux outlines what makes a horror film
scary. He outlines how we cope with fear and how the body responds and changes
when we experience it. He also explains what are the main stimulants of
fear and what he has discovered over his thirty years of research into the
With an excellent commentary track and a comprehensive behind
the scenes documentary, 'The Grudge' receives a good DVD treatment. Fans
of the film will rejoice at the detail of documentary and revel in the amusing
commentary track with only a lack of deleted scenes hindering the release.
This is a must by for fans and an excellent rental for those of you too
scared to watch 'The Grudge' on the big screen.
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