RJ Bayley Reviews: The Grudge

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When I first saw director Takashi Shimzu’s American remake of his own film, Ju-on, The Grudge I thought it was one of the worst films I had ever seen, and upon being given the DVD, it was hastily given away again so I didn’t die of boredom from a second viewing. It’s a shame that story couldn’t have been about last week’s reviewed film, The Ring.
Perhaps it was these super low expectations that influenced my recent watching of this now reviled film.

With wiser eyes that grant a greater appreciation of what it is going for, it turns out The Grudge isn’t all that bad. To kick things off you have to admire a film that puts it’s monsters front and centre early on into the film. Yes, one of the two ghosts looks incredibly similar to the antagonist of The Ring but the little boy Toshiro, played by Yuya Saeki is an amusing gender reversal of Sadako/Samara.

Before long however you realise that The Grudge’s comparison to The Ring was perhaps valid though unfortunate. The Grudge was judged as trying to achieve the same as The Ring, when in fact what it wants to be was an old fashioned haunted house movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. This becomes especially apparent when you recognise that the king of the kooky haunted house movie Sam Raimi produced it.

What we have are some admirably and therefore unexcitingly vintage horror tricks in the clothes of the then fashionable J-horror remake. Plenty of the effects are clearly in-camera and most importantly it isn’t afraid to do something a bit silly to achieve a fun ghost train affect.

The Grudge isn’t good but it isn’t terrible, though it’s levity probably gives it more mileage than The Ring.

★★

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