The Grudge (2004) - Widescreen Edition

Genre(s): Horror / Mystery / Thriller
Columbia, Sony || PG13 - 96 minutes - $19.94 || February 1, 2005
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-02-03


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Writer(s): Takashi Shimizu (film <i>Ju-On: The Grudge</i>), Stephen Susco (screenplay)
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, Clea DuVall, William Mapother, Bill Pullman


Theatrical Release Date: October 22, 2004


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Producer, Writer & Actors Commentary
  • A Power Rage: Behind The Grudge
  • Under the Skin
  • Previews


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Though not as bad when I last saw it, The Grudge still failed to have any effect on me at all. The story sounds interesting and new for this culture, but something was still missing to make it memorable or complete. At any rate, if you scare easily, then maybe The Grudge is for you.

Original Review:
[SPOILER SECTION- Highlight to Read]The Grudge opens up eerily enough with Bill Pullman out on his apartment balcony, looking a tad glum. After a few moments of more glumness (while basically ignoring his beautiful wife), he takes a swan dive over the edge and falls to the pavement below. In retrospect, I kind of wish I was him as this film wore on.[END SPOILER]

Sarah Michelle Gellar “stars” as Karen, an exchange student living with her boyfriend in Tokyo. For some social credits, she works for a care-aid company that dispatches their workers for in-home care. After one of them doesn’t show for work one day, they send out Karen for her first job to aid an older woman who is the mother of owner of this home, Matthew Williams (Mapother; In the Bedroom). The film takes us through a span of 24 hours or so -- back and forth -- highlighting what haunts this house.

It is explained, later, by a detective that in Japanese legend, when someone is killed in great rage, they not only are subject to relive their death repeatedly, but also leave behind a deadly curse.

This film reminded some of another horror/thriller, The Ring, the film where you watch a video tape of some chick -- who really needs a shower and a haircut -- climbs out of a well; and after viewing this tape, you die 7 days later. Well, here, most who enter this home, may receive the wrath of this (seemingly) same woman -- who still needs that shower!

I realize that perhaps I’m taking this film too seriously, but when a film such as this tries to pass itself as a horror-thriller, and the scares are scarce, it utterly fails to pass my (normally low) standards. I don’t know if this movie could’ve been better, maybe they should’ve released the original it was based upon -- Ju-On: The Grudge -- rather than replace American actors for their Japanese counter-parts.

The cast, as a whole, were only average at best. Usually I could say that this or that actress tried their hardest but because of the script… yada, yada, yada. Here, though, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Bill Pullman and the others, were bland. Could the script have changed that? Maybe, but I really don't think so.

What this movie does prove, however, is that Sarah Michelle Gellar -- whom I liked in the cult-fave TV show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” -- does not have the charisma or even acting skills to take on a main part such as this. Right now, she’s still riding on her “Buffy” fame and to a lesser extent, the Scooby movies, and that soon could run out on her. I think given a better script and maybe a supporting role, she could score a solid hit.

I found little to no emotion in any of the roles that I could grab on to and care about. Because I could not find any empathy for her plight, I also found it difficult to care about what happens in the end.

Beyond the acting, or the lack there of, The Grudge just wasn’t scary. I liked that director Takashi Shimizu (who directed the Japanese version) jumped back and forth between the film’s timeline, but instead of building suspense, it instead diminished.

Shimizu’s direction was probably the best part of the movie. No, it wasn’t good, merely decent. While I will give him credit for not going after the usual tricks the horror-thriller genre tends to have, I can’t say there was anything awe-inspiring nor (again) scary, a common theme in this picture.

Overall, The Grudge just didn’t work on many of the basic levels of a solid and slick thriller. Sarah Michelle Gellar is a decent actress but nowhere near being the type of star that could pull off a film with so many problems, the biggest being the script.

It never forgives. It never forgets. Although the flaws are unforgivable, something tells me that I will forget this piece of trash by next week.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

As far as special features go with these kinds of films, The Grudge has a decent amount of stuff in it.

The commentary track is very good and features alot of people who (as far as I could tell) were actually in the same room. Featured on the track is actress Sarah Michelle Gellar along with some of her co-stars as well as producer Sam Raimi and the screenwriter. Although this number of people tends to confuse things a bit (maybe having subtitles at the top of screen showing who it is may have helped here), it still is nice as each of them can bring a little something different to the table. The common theme I found on here was how great it was to work in Japan. And, of course, there was the usual congradulatories to some of the other actors and such, but overall a fun time-waster if you like listen to a loose conversation.

A Power Rage: Behind The Grudge is a five-part, 47 minute featurette that gives some good details about how the film was made. There are the annoying elements from other 'making-of' crap like cast interviews who seem to repeat the company line about what an experience the film is/was and how scary it is, but it also goes into detail about the language barier and such.

The featurette starts out with "The Birth of The Grudge" which outlines how and why the film (originally based upon Ju-On: The Grudge) came to be. Executive producer Sam Raimi wanted to bring this film to Americans and basically he wanted to just replace the Japanese characters with Americans... and wa-la. "Myth of Ju-On" covers the Japanese belief about the soul, spirituality and the like. I don't think this was anything I didn't know before, but it was a good educational experience. Next, "Culture Shock: The American Cast in Japan" is about... well, the Americans in Japan. Again, more interviews as the cast was blown away by Japan and their experiences there. The next two are basically the same old thing with "Designing the Grudge House" which talks about why they decided to build a bigger house than what is the norm in Japan (much, much smaller homes) and "A New Direction: Undertstanding Takashi Shimizu" is a profile on the Japanese legendary director and covers a bit more into the language barrier, but also goes into a little detail about how he likes to direct.

The worst of the features has to be Under the Skin, a 12 minute featurette/interview with a Phd/professor of neural science and psychology who chronicles why people get scared. Wow, so exciting. I think it's human intuition about why we get scared, but if you're interested maybe you'll find this thing useful. I didn't because this was as boring as my Russian history I had in college... (well, maybe not THAT boring).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Presented in the standard Dolby 5.1, The Grudge had some decent sound to it with the bass getting a good working. However, I found the picture to be off somewhat. I don't know if this was just the director's style, but some of the skin tones didn't look right and became distracting to me (though I have to admit, I think I was looking for a distraction anyways).



.::OVERALL::.

Although The Grudge wasn't the greatest horror movie, at least this DVD had something to offer with a good commentary track and a half-way decent featurette. If you liked this film and were truly scared by it, then you are probably one who'll enjoy watching this thing over and over. For me, it was like I living a grudge myself as re-watching this thing was kind of like being killed and having to relive the savagry of it all!