92 Min | Horror – Mystery – Thriller | November 2004
IMDB Rating: 5.8
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, Clea DuVall
The Grudge Review: Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar), an exchange student in Japan who is just beginning to do some social work, is sent to aid an elderly semi-catatonic woman, Emma (Grace Zabriskie), after her previous caretaker, Yoko (Yoko Maki), disappears. Karen soon learns that something is not right in Emma’s home, and she attempts to “see how deep the rabbit hole goes”. Maybe it’s a delayed influence from the success of M. Night Shyamalan’s films, but slower-paced, understated horror films are a recent trend. In some cases, such as Hide and Seek (2005), the approach works remarkably well, and in others, such as White Noise (2005), the pacing tends to kill the film. I didn’t like The Grudge quite as much as Hide and Seek, but this is still a very good film.
The Grudge has a couple significant differences from other recent examples of that trend, however. One, it is well known that this is a remake based on the Japanese film series that began with Ju-On (2000). Two, as with many Japanese horror films, the slower pacing here isn’t so much in the realm of realist drama as with surrealism. As is also the case with a large percentage of European horror, The Grudge should be looked at more as a filmed nightmare.
However, even if you’re not used to it, it’s worth trying to suspend your normal preconceptions about films and give The Grudge a shot. The Grudge a well written, well directed, well acted film, filled with unusual properties, such as the story interweaving a large number of “main characters” (which is done better here than the more episodic Ju-On 3), good cinematography, subtle production design touches (check out Gellar’s clothes, which match the color and texture of the exterior of Emma’s house, when Gellar first approaches), and beautifully effective horror material.