The Grudge 2
Written by Stephen Susco
Directed by Takashi Shimizu
Distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment
Running Time: 95 minutes
by Jon Minners
To say The Grudge 2 was a joke would be putting it mildly. After seeing the first movie twice and contributing to the wildly successful run it had two years ago, the second one was a given, but no one could have expected that the film would surpass Wedding Crashers as the funniest movie ever. The only problem is, Grudge 2 was meant to be a horror film. When you have more laughs than screams of terror, you have a failure on your hands.
The first film was about a house where horrible things happened. A husband, discovering that his wife was cheating on him, kills her, his kid, the cat and himself, leaving a curse on their home and passing on that curse to anyone who dares enter it. Karen, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, is a student studying with her boyfriend in a Tokyo University and taking a job at the house where she is to care for an elderly woman. But bad things happen, people die and Karen ends up burning down the house after reliving the events that led to the curse and discovering her boyfriend dead.
The second film follows Aubrey Davis, played by Amber Tamblyn, of Joan of Arcadia fame. Aubrey is Karen’s estranged sister, who at the request of her mother, travels to Japan to see her sister and bring her home. Karen, who is once again played, albeit briefly, by Gellar, burned the house down to get rid of the evil spirits that lurked within, but has been accused of killing her boyfriend. The spirits want their revenge and kill Karen, throwing her from the roof of the hospital and in front of Aubrey and a journalist who is also haunted by the curse.
The story would be easy to follow and linear if they just left it alone at that, but this film is anything, but easy to follow. In addition to the story behind the spirits and that of Aubrey Davis’ search for answers, the movie adds two other stories to the mix. One of them involves an American student who, in an effort to be cool, follows two other students into the home, only two years after it was burned down. The other involves a makeshift family in Chicago made up of Jennifer Beals, of Flashdance, who moves in with a father and his two children. Their love for one another and a potential happy home is destroyed when a hooded woman moves in next door and all hell begins to break loose.
The three different stories are intertwined, shifting from one another, but none of which taking place during the same time period. They only hint at this time difference, never actually letting the viewer know until we piece all the pieces together in the end. Needless to say, this leads to a very confused audience.
Of course, the audience was not that into the film to begin with. They were often times hysterical in dealing with the laughable situations on the screen. What was meant to be scary was anything, but, almost ridiculous in nature. The shot of the mother, with long hair covering her face, staggering toward its victims is always a little jarring. That little kid, curled up, meowing and staring with its menacing black eyes is freaky. It always will be, but we saw this all already. There was nothing new to scare us; nothing to jump at; nothing that would make for a perfect date moment when a girl jumps into a guy’s arms in fear. The girls were laughing harder than the guys, who were trying to figure out the story.
That didn’t work. The story was dreadful. There was no substance. While the original Grudge was nowhere near a screen gem, its creepy visuals and unique scares covered up for a flimsy and convoluted plot. The film relies on the same creepy vibe that was already done before and then tries to add to the plot with strange back stories about the female spirit that are hard to believe. The story that allows the Grudge to travel all the way to Chicago and affect people who never stepped foot into the house, is a poor attempt to expand the franchise without explanation. The ending just happens and left viewers staring at the screen, wondering what they saw and feeling cheated. People really expected the end to save the film. They were disappointed.
The Ring was an excellent adaptation of a Japanese horror film. Its sequel actually added to the story, working together with the original to form a tight story with a beginning, middle and end that satisfied its viewers. Grudge followed suit with an original and unique tale of horror that, while not as good as The Ring, was good enough to satisfy viewer’s tastes the first time out. Its sequel accomplished nothing. It was a movie with the sole aim of taking advantage of the first success and robbing viewers blind. The film was better left unmade. Uninspired, unoriginal, unwatchable…The Grudge 2’s characters met a better fate than its audience.