Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)

It's the scene everyone and their dog talks about in the remake! Only with Ito Misaki!

It’s the scene everyone and their dog talks about in the remake! Only with Ito Misaki!

A couple weeks ago, my friends and I wound up watching Ju-on: The Curse, a low budget, direct-to-video horror movie that was actually surprisingly good. I decided to check out its more well known sequel, The Grudge, tonight.

I’ll let you know that I have seen The Grudge’s American remake, and it was easily one of the worst horror movies I have ever seen. It was clear in that movie that they believed American audiences are too dumb to follow something with Japanese subtleties and without white actors or softcore sex scenes that involve Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Anyway, back to the Japanese one. The Grudge follows Rika (Okina Megumi), a caretaker who is tasked with taking care of an elderly woman who has been by herself for some time. Little does Rika know that it is in fact the woman lives in the house that was central to The Curse.

Already, the movie assumes some prior knowledge of the Ju-on saga. In fact, had I not seen The Curse, I strongly suspect little, if any, of the movie would have made any sense to me since the Saeki family backstory was explained in the first movie.

Like The Curse, The Grudge tells its story through a series of substories which ultimately unite to what was going on around Rika. Among other characters, we meet office worker Hitomi (Ito Misaki of You’re Under Arrest! and Edison’s Mother) and former policeman Yuji (Tanaka Yoji, who also co-starred with Ito in Edison’s Mother).

As I said in my reviews of The Curse and Retribution, I think the best horror movies are the ones made on more modest budgets because they force the director to leave most of the scares up to the imagination, which was a doctrine established by Alfred Hitchcock. However, director Shimizu Takashi clearly had more money to play with in The Grudge. Thus he decided to show a lot more ghosts and gore onscreen, which actually seriously detracted from the horror. The Curse was a more legitimately scary movie because much of the time you had no idea what to expect.

That said, there was a bit more of a complete story in The Grudge. It didn’t seem like there was a sequel being planned (even though there was one), so it seemed like the writers tried to get everything tied up by The Grudge’s end. I will say I did detect a plothole or two.

Overall, The Grudge wasn’t a great horror movie, but I will say it was much better than most horror movies I have seen in recent memory, namely Saw VII or Alpha Girls. Needless to say, the original Japanese version is also orders of magnitudes better than the craptastic American remake, which featured American people knocking about in Japan for absolutely no reason. However, I think it’s fair to say I’ll have to continue my search until I find a horror movie that really impresses me.

Score: 2.5/4