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Takashi Shimizu remakes his Ju-on series-- with the help of Hollywood heavyweights Sam Raimi, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Bill Pullman--and the results are everything a horror movie should be.
Hollywood has a reputation for taking these amazing films from foreign countries, having the audacity to attempt their own version, and then completely missing the mark, often to the point of embarrassment. The Grudge figured out how to avoid that curse: Put the original Japanese director at the helm of the
Director Takashi Shimizu has exceedingly succeeded in helming a truly terrifying horror/thriller that's surreal and unlike your typical horror movie. American audiences are cynical when it comes to horror movies, wanting so badly to find it cheesy, not wanting to admit to being susceptible to fear. But in the packed theater that I was sitting in, there was a definite turning point early on in the movie, when any skeptical chuckles quickly subsided and heart-racing silence and nervous laughter prevailed.
The Grudge takes place in
The story is non-linear, but it's based on this Japanese idea that if someone dies in the grips of a powerful rage, a curse is born in that exact spot where the death happened. Everyone who goes back to that place is immediately and inevitably consumed by this curse. There is no escape.
And of course, to our dismay and frustration, they all go there. And we hate them for it. But we love it at the same time. Sarah Michelle Gellar reminds us why she seems to have been in every single horror movie made recently, and that's because she is good at it. Impressively honest and chilly performances also come from newcomer KaDee Strickland (Anacondas) as Susan, Yoko Maki as Yoko, and Ryo Ishibashi as the strong-willed, yet heavy-hearted Detective Nakagawa.
Dialogue is kept at a minimum, which was probably smart, because each scene is so creatively imagined that your normal, cheesy, horror-movie dialogue would have only tainted it. Each character behaves and is constructed in a way where we understand each move they're making, a testament to Stephen Susco, the screenwriter. And even if we want to shake them sometimes, we'd be hard-headed not to admit that we would do the same thing. It's almost like these characters are brought down and weakened by their own naturally built-in human condition. Which is what makes the movie alternately entertaining and chilling at the same time; it rings a bell of the sometimes nonsensical ways we instinctively react to fear. In other words, we can relate.
Both actors from the original Japanese Ju-on: The Grudge series--Takako
Why would he be alone out on the streets in the dark in the middle of the night, you ask? I don't know, but I'm scared!!
The Grudge opens wide in the
Visit www.doyouhaveagrudge.com for more information.
Date Posted: 10/15/2004