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Black October 29: The Grudge

October 29, 2009

I liked The Grudge when I first saw it, in 2004. Coming off The Ring, I was in the mood for another good adaptation of a Japanese horror film — in this case, Ju-On. I loved Ju-On. I liked The Grudge.

Seeing it again now, years later, I wonder why.

Aside from a few spooky moments (mostly involving whiteface makeup and quick edits), this isn’t a very frightening film. An attempt is made to focus on the American characters’ fish-out-of-water situation in Tokyo, but it fails; there are so, so many Americans in this movie that it seems like it was filmed in a neighbourhood next to Chinatown in San Francisco.

It’s a good story. I’d even say it’s an excellent story. And this movie is very, very well constructed. It just doesn’t hold my attention. It tries hard, but you can actually see the moments when director Takashi Shimizu — imported from the Ju-On series to helm the American remake — decided to throw in a gross-out scene to amp up the action. These scenes don’t further the story and serve only to highlight the inadequacies of Sarah Michelle Gellar and the actor who plays her boyfriend, who was in Roswell and whose name escapes me.

The Grudge comes close, but fails, to scare, relying on scenes of mutilation rather than building suspense through mood. I don’t think I’ll be watching it again anytime soon.

If memory serves, I liked The Grudge 2 better, but I haven’t seen it in ages. Maybe I’ll do that soon. But to be honest, I’m glad this month of horror DVD reviews is wrapping up. I might watch The Sound of Music for a while to cleanse the palate.

Wait, it’s Jason Behr. I just remembered. Also, Ted Raimi is in this, which is always good. So there’s that.

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