The Grudge 2

The Grudge 2


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Grudge is a modest title for a contagious killer ghost infection. The Curse would have been more apt.

What began as a Japanese chiller, during the spate of Asian spook flicks, which included Ring and Dark Water, has spawned an American remake, a Japanese sequel, a planned third outing now in production and this remake of the sequel. Not bad for a haunted house scenario.

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Despite genuinely scary moments, The Grudge 2 suffers from massive overkill (no pun intended) and a plot that runs away with itself. What began as a simple premise, that anyone entering the space of a vicious murder - husband kills wife and child and himself - will be haunted to death, has extended to anyone vaguely connected to someone who once went into the house. This means that you could be on another continent and the grey dead Japanese child might wrap its fingers around your face and throttle your screams.

The opening sequence is completely baffling. Jennifer Beals in Chicago pours boiling bacon fat over her husband's head and beats him to death with a frying pan. What, in the name of clarity, is this all about? You don't return to Beals until two thirds of the way through and, even then, nothing is satisfactorily revealed.

Meanwhile, back in Tokyo and That House, three students from the International School open the unlocked door for a dare and enter what is now a blackened shell, after Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar), from the previous Hollywood remake, had tried to burn the place down. These teens are stereotypical - the sexy naughty Reese Witherspoon lookalike (Teresa Palmer), the cool English-speaking Japanese Bjork lookalike (Misako Uno) and the gangly shy Will Ferrell's sister lookalike (Arielle Kebbel). Naturally, they are doomed.

Next comes Aubrey (Amber Tamblyn), sent from Pennsylvania by her sick mother (Joanna Cassidy) to bring back Karen, who is still in hospital, despite the fact that the sisters have had a row and are not speaking. Things happen and then more things happen, none of which will help you sleep at night. Aubrey, the most sensible and least interesting of the girls, gains the help and, to some extent, support of young local journalist Eason (Edison Chen), who is used by scriptwriter Stephen Susco as a rational influence, as well as conduit for back story info.

Takashi Shimizu must be Grudged out by now, having directed all four and written the originals. He doesn't appear jaded, nor exhausted, rather the opposite. The trouble is, he can't curb his imagination - or is Susco to blame? - as the storyline twists into incredible knots and you don't know whether you are into a Body Snatchers parallel universe, or a ghostly magic show. When Aubrey finally tracks down the psychic mother of the murdered wife, living as a recluse in the depth of the country, the old hag speaks English. Is this the spirit of Jessica Tandy talking through her?

As for Beals and the bad breakfast, don't ask. They exist in a mumbo of paranormal jumbo, where horror resides as a permanent reality and the only law is three screams and you're dead.

Reviewed on: 18 Oct 2006
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The killer ghosts from the Tokyo haunted house spread their deadly virus into a wider world.
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Director: Takashi Shimizu

Writer: Stephen Susco, based on the screenplay of Ju-On by Takashi Shimizu

Starring: Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel, Teresa Palmer, Misako Uno, Edison Chen, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Beals, Sarah Roemer, Matthew Knight, Joanna Cassidy

Year: 2006

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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