The Grudge

Cast:
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Karen
Jason Behr as Dog
Clea DuVall as Jennifer Williams
William Mapother as Matthew Williams
KaDee Strickland as Susan Williams
Bill Pullman as Peter
Rosa Blasi as Maria
Grace Zabriskie as Emma
Courtney Webb as Sick girl
Takako Fuji as Kayako
Yuya Ozeki as Toshio
Ted Raimi as Alex

Summary:
The Grudge is a slow, but creepy amble through a fragmented tale of jealousy and rage that falls well short of being a noteworthy horror film.

Story:
The Grudge is a curse of one who dies in the grip of a powerful rage. Those who encounter this murderous supernatural curse die and a new one is born – passed like a virus from victim to victim in an endless, growing chain of horror. Sarah (Gellar) is new to Tokyo and works for a volunteer care center. She is given her first assignment at a house newly inhabited by the Williams family and soon is thrust into the world of a trio of murderous ghosts.

The Grudge is Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, disturbing images, terror, violence and some sensuality.

What Worked:
The mood and imagery of The Grudge is probably its best quality. There are some genuinely creepy moments and the appearance of the specters is fairly unsettling – their gestures and vocalizations are the stuff that makes skin crawl.

The cast does an acceptable job, though there is no real standout performance here.

I was also a fan of the non-linear way the story was told – having scenes from the present play out followed by scenes from the past that answered some questions left from the previous scene.

What Didn’t Work:
Firstly, I have not seen Ju On. So you are getting this review of The Grudge as a stand-alone film – like the Japanese version never existed. That said, I really did not enjoy this movie. Sadly, the one thing The Grudge wants to be, it is notÂ… and that is scary. The film is creepy enough, but it was never really scary enough.

Also the non-linear storytelling lent itself to a jaw dropping third-act bombshell – but it never came. There is no big secret, no hidden meaning, no grand revelation – what is on the screen is what you getÂ… and that just wasn’t enough. Perhaps I’ve been trained by Hollywood to expect the unexpected.

I don’t wish to spoil the movie for those interested in going, but I will pose this question – Why, if the Tokyo police knew about the history of the house and the fact that they themselves lost three detectives to an investigation of a prior event there, did they ever let the Williams’ move in! Seems like they could have sealed the place over with cement and called it a day. If the curse needs others to interact with to stay alive, then don’t give it that opportunity! Just a thought.

In all, The Grudge under whelmed me. I was hoping for more than what I got and that’s a shame. I was looking forward to a good ghost story to add to my DVD collection some day.

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