Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Grudge 2

The Grudge 2 2006
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Writer: Stephen Susco
Starring Amber Tamblyn, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Arielle Kebbel, Takako Fuji, Edison Chen, Sarah Roemer, Jennifer Beals, Matthew Knight, Misako Uno, Teresa Palmer, Ohga Tanaka, Yuya Ozeki and Christopher Cousins

The genre of Japanese horror remakes is a short but long one in the horror genre and most of these transitions are mind numbingly bad with a few exceptions. Those being the Ring series, Pule and The Grudge series. These are all series that I think work far better in the Americanized versions than they do in the original Japanese versions. I really do not know what it is about the American versions that are better, but I do think they are better paced and flow thematically much better than their Japanese counterparts. I personally find the original versions of the Ring and the Grudge very boring and very hard to sit through. They take way too long to set up the story and it makes the proceedings very boring. The U.S. versions flow much more smoothly and you actually get a feel for the characters that are missing in the original versions. The Grudge 2 is on one those sequels that I feel is equal to what the fist film set out to do. It is just as creepy and eerie as the first one and I liked how it used 3 different storylines and joined them together by the end of the film. It also has a much more American horror film ending, as everything that can end badly does, and I appreciate that. The best horror films work well with a sense of dread and the Grudge 2 uses this very well.
The plot basics are this, it follows immediately from the ending of the first film. In Pasadena Mrs. Davis sends her daughter Aubrey Davis (Tamblyn) to Tokyo to bring back her other daughter Karen Davis (Gellar) back home. She is in isolation at a hospital after burning down a house. After meeting with Karen, she unexpectedly dies and this sets Aubrey on investigating what happened to Karen in Japan. She finds herself being chased by the same vengeful ghost that Karen was pursued by. Elsewhere, in Tokyo 3 high school students are now being chased by the ghost as well, due to a prank 2 of them set on the 3rd one. Meanwhile in Chicago, Trish (Beals) has moved in with her boyfriend Bill (Cousins) and they soon witness strange goings on's within their apartment building, that may be related to the goings on's in Tokyo. As the story progresses it will become clear that all these stories are connected and they will all soon come together.
This is a very creepy and evocative film. The direction by Shimizu is very even handed. He sets up the claustrophobic and fear filled scenes with a deft hand and there is always a sense of dread and sadness tinged into every scene. IT is definitely a film that feels unsettling and it is a feeling you feel long after witnessing the film. The script is quite tight and suspenseful too. It gives you just enough details on what happened in the previous film that a newcomer does not feel lost and a fan of the previous film feels that they have touched on what has gone on before. There are many characters that are juggled throughout the film and the best one has to be Aubrey, as she is given the most development and you care about what happens to her far more than any of the other characters. The cast does a great job too. Tamblyn is very good as Aubrey, she is sympathetic and also very strong willed. Gellar does fine in her limited role in the film, and really serves a purpose with her addition to the film. Beals also does a good job, though her role seems really transitory and rather pointless. The SFX and effects in the film are very ethereal but also very fluid. They work well within the parameters of the film. A film that works more with mood and atmosphere than with blood and guts. The score by Christopher Young also really amplifies the mood of the film and really makes the viewer feels like they are on the edge of their seat throughout the film. This is a great sequel and also one of the best Japanese horror films remade for American audiences out there.
This film gets 4 out of 5

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