Movie Review: “The Grudge” (2004)

Even though I’m supposed to be studying like mad for my end-of-term exams, I took the time to dig around my old stuff and found a movie review I wrote back in grade 12 for film class. The review is about the horror movie The Grudge, which is an American remake of one of those typical Japanese “ghost girl” movies (ex. The Ring). It was an okay film overall, but I don’t like horror movies in general, because I’m not exactly what people would call “brave” and some horror movies make me uncomfortable.

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The Grudge is and English remake of the Japanese horror flick Ju-On, and is directed by Takashi Shimizu, who happens to be the director of the original Japanese film. The whole movie still takes place in Japan, but the lead character has been changed to an American, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. The Grudge has the necessary elements to be a genuine horror film, but it brings nothing new to the table.

The Grudge takes place in Tokyo, where Karen (Gellar), an exchange student, and her boyfriend Doug are currently attending school. Karen volunteers at a local care centre and is sent to help an elderly American woman when the regular caretaker failed to show. When Karen arrives at the creepy-looking house, she finds the place in a total mess, the old woman in terrible condition, and a curse that threatens to kill anyone who has been in the house.

Japanese horror films seem to be good at inducing fear, and even this westernized version is no exception. The audience will get their fair share of real and false scares, and the film uses music and (sometimes ear-splitting) noises to build up the tension in order to amplify the emotional effects. All this is pretty standard horror movie fare. The movie is scary but there isn’t anything new in the style. I felt like a sort of seen this film before. For example, the long black hair and the “evil eye” in the Grudge are similar to the long black hair and the “evil eye” from The Ring. The idea of people becoming murderous ghosts after dying in a horrible way is also not a new concept, and after the first few scares, the film becomes a bit repetitive, as the scares are more or less than similar to one another.

There are also some parts of The Grudge that need slightly better explanations. For example, the ghosts are supposed to kill anyone who has been in the house, but certain characters like the real estate agent and most of the cops didn’t meet their demise, or if they did, it wasn’t shown on the screen. Another problem is that it’s not clear how the ghosts kill some of their victims, especially how the female ghost kills Doug near the climax. From what I saw, the ghost basically crawls on to Doug for a bit, and Doug somehow dies. A little bit more detail in the film would have helped clear up these confusions.

Overall, The Grudge is a pretty standard horror movie that does what it’s supposed to do. The movie is scary enough to give some people nightmares, but come to think of it, not even one person in the theatre screamed when I was watching the film, so either the film isn’t all that frightening or it’s so scary that people couldn’t make a sound. So for people who like horror movies or are looking for a decent scare, The Grudge is worth checking out.

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