I really have had enough of these Hollywood Japanese horror remakes, and Hollywood horror in general actually. There seems to be a never-ending torrent of bland drivel on a monthly basis with each offering eating into my sanity, as I sit through another 90 minute slog of well-worn plot contrivances. At least Freddy vs Jason (Ronny Yu, 2003) had the decency to throw in a bit of fun as two of the most overused characters dueled it out for the finale. Grudge 2, on the other hand, barely makes any attempt to be original or new either within the confines of the franchise or the perception of Japanese horror. As long as there is a grey girl showing up in creepy places unable to walk in a straight line we are supposed to be scared. Well, those producers need to realise that while we all lapped up what was new in The Ring (Hideo Nakata, 1998), the original that is, has fast become one of the most roll-eye inducing moments in modern horror history.
…A disjointed narrative merely existing to link the deaths of these fresh faces together
Creator and director of The Grudge series, originally known as Ju-On in Japan, Takashi Shimizu has made it to his fourth variant of a tale about a ghostly girl and boy who haunt and kill those who enter their house. It is no wonder that it is all getting a little boring. You may remember that in the initial American film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as house nurse Karen Davis working in Tokyo, she burnt down the house in which the ghouls lived after discovering the truth behind a rage-fuelled murder that happened there. It turns out that the property is still very much standing while Karen lies in hospital determined to return to finish what she started. Enter a trio of young schoolgirls who venture fourth into the house only to be scared witless. Meanwhile Karen’s sister Aubrey (Amber Tamblyn) is sent by her mother to bring Karen back home to the US and a seemingly random family is brought together in a new flat. Oh, there is also Infernal Affairs (Wai Keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak, 2002) star Edison Chen as a journalist tracing the Karen Davis story. What does this amount to? A disjointed narrative merely existing to link the deaths of these fresh faces together.
I will not be ruining anything to tell you that Gellar does not stick around long enough to be considered for a future entry into this series, but then neither do half of them. We are given no time to understand why we should care whether they live or die — at least in the original there was that sense of the unknown coupled with a focus on Karen. Now we know the two kids and the way they operate, there is nothing scary with them knocking off one teenage nobody after another. There is a loose suggestion as to why the pair are killing everybody, but you’ll have either walked out or given up caring by the time that arrives. Yes, The Ring was scary because of its wired girl, as was Dark Water (Hideo Nakata, 2002). But both had a story to tell. The Grudge 2 is simply using the now clichéd diseased-looking girl creeping up on people to pass off its lack of imagination. Girls locker room scene? Then a quick spooky shower? Hot girl in cheerleader outfit? Yes. Well, ok, it’s not like its heading towards an ultimate teenage boy’s fantasy flick between the horror but when you hear lines such as “I don’t know what to believe any more” you’ll begin to wonder if any inventive thought went into this retrudge. You’ll probably also be as bemused as I was about how people mysterious disappear. What? You’ll see…
…Hopefully it will spell the end for the torment we, as filmgoers, have to endure
So, to recap, a dire film that probably works best on those who can be scared by someone standing in front of them shouting “Boo!” relentlessly with an episode of Hollyoaks on a nearby television. Wait, that’s an insult to Hollyoaks, but you probably get the idea. (If you’ve not heard of Hollyoaks, just think Beverley Hills 90210 or another inane teen series). A fifth, and supposedly final, film awaits. Hopefully it will spell the end for the torment we, as filmgoers, have to endure. It has given me a grudge against the horror genre that makes me want to stalk and kill it myself.