Film: The Grudge
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Writer: Stephen Susco
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr and Clea DuVall
This film takes place in Japan. We are in the apartment of Bill Pullman and his wife, played by Rosa Blasi. Blasi wakes up and asks why Pullman is awake. He doesn’t respond, he does slide over top of the railing of the balcony. He falls to his death.
The film then shifts to a home. There is an old woman who doesn’t talk much, played by Grace Zabriskie. We learn that she has dementia and needs to have round the clock care. We have a young woman who comes to visit her, played by Yôko Maki. While she is cleaning up the house, she goes upstairs to find Takako Fuji. She is making a weird sound and we cut away.
We then shift to an apartment shared by Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jason Behr. Behr is up trying to look for clean clothes to go to class. We learn that Gellar doesn’t have class today, but she has to pick up a book. They go together and Gellar meets with her supervisor, who is played by Ted Raimi. Raimi asks for Gellar to go check on a patient since Maki did not show up today.
The house she goes to is that of Zabriskie. Gellar finds the house tore up and Zabriskie has messed herself. Gellar begins to clean up and discovers that the closet upstairs has been taped shut. Inside is a little boy, played by Yuya Ozeki. Gellar calls someone to report this. When she goes back to Zabriskie’s room, she is talking to someone. Gellar asks about it and she states she just wants to be left alone. That is when something comes from the corner of the ceiling.
The film then shifts back into time when the family is looking at the house. Zabriskie’s son has been transferred for his job to Japan, he is played by William Mapother. Mapother is married to Clea DuVall and his sister works in Japan as well, she is played by KaDee Strickland. The house looks like everything they want, but they do not know the history. The realtor tries to drain the tub when a hand grabs him in it. This is not witnessed by any of the family. Mapthor tells him he will take it.
DuVall has struggles with adjusting to Japan and to having to care for Zabriskie. She tries to go to the store, but can’t read anything and doesn’t know what to buy. She takes a nap, but when she gets up, she finds the house tore up. She thinks it is Zabriskie, but when she goes upstairs, she finds Ozeki, who scares her. When Mapother comes home, he finds DuVall catatonic and finds Ozeki as well. The ghosts have gotten to him as well.
The film then shifts back to the present. Raimi shows up at the house and finds Gellar terrified and Zabriskie is dead. The police are called and begin to investigate. This is headed up by Ryo Ishibashi. There is talk amongst him and another cop that this is the same house as another crime was committed. He searches for the phone that is missing and finds Mapother and DuVall dead in the attic. He also finds a jawbone of someone else. They are trying to get in touch with KaDee Strickland.
Strickland is at work and we see her make a call to her brother. She goes to leave and hears weird noises. She tries to take the stairs, but she hears the sound of the ghost, the lights go out and it comes after her. She flees to the security room and asks the guard for help. While he is gone, she sees a figure come out of the stairwell. She does make it back to her apartment, but the ghost gets her there.
Ishibashi watches the security footage and knows what is going on. Gellar wakes up in the hospital and she is haunted by what is in the house, whether it is seeing a figure in the reflection of a window or feeling a hand in her hair when she is showering. She speaks with Ishibashi and learns of The Grudge curse. She then goes about investigating what happened in the house. She learns there was a father played by Takashi Matsuyama who murdered his son, Ozeki, and his wife, Fuji, as well as their cat. How is this connected with Pullman? Can they stop the curse before it is too late? Or are they succumb and become part of it too?
I have to say that this film scared the heck out of me the first time I saw it. I am big fan of the J-Horror movement and this is one of the films that got me turned on to it. I think the acting is really good in this one. I really like that Ishibashi is a cop, but still believes in the supernatural, because that is rare. Now it could be because he is Japanese and they believe in the occult a little more by their nature. I would name the rest of the cast, but they all were solid across the board. I like the story and I think director Takahsi Shimizu used some good camera movement, angles and shots to build fear and tension. I think Ozeki and Fuji are great as the ghosts, with how they look, make-up, how they move and the sounds that they make as well.
My biggest gripe on this film is that it is presented out of order and gets confusing. I have seen this film a few times now, so I knew that it was done that way and I made an effort to put the parts together to ensure I got the full story. The first time I just watched it for the scary parts and not really taking in the entire story. I think that hurts this one a bit. The only other issue I have is with the curse itself, what are the qualifying factors to which will make it happen to you and what is not. That is also confusing to me as well.
I would highly recommend this film if you are a fan of J-Horror remakes. If you are a fan of curse, ghost and haunted house films, then I would recommend this one as well. It has good acting across the board, a solid story and some really scary parts in it as well. The sounds, camera angles, shots and the ghosts as well as how they move really help to make this scarier. The only major issue for me was how the story is put together can be confusing, but doesn’t ruin it. I would say give this one a viewing.
My Rating: 7 out of 10