The Grudge 2 (2006) / Horror-Mystery
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for disturbing images, violence, some sensuality, and language
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Amber Tamblyn, Edison Chen, Arielle Kebbel, Jennifer Beals, Teresa Palmer, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Misako Uno, Sarah Roemer, Matthew Knight, Joanna Cassidy, Jenna Dewan
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Screenplay: Stephen Susco (based (sort of) on the movie, "Ju-On: The Grudge", by Takashi Shimizu)
Review published October 22, 2006
Before the first American remake of Ju-On was released in 2003, I would often be heard referring to it as "The Drudgery", describing what a chore it would be to sit through another vacuous horror mood piece. It turned out not to be such drudgery after all, although I must admit, I was more amused by the screaming idiots in the audience than I was entertained by anything I saw on the screen. I won't be as kind to this dull, redundant sequel, which spends less than five minutes of its total running length actually adding some new wrinkle to the original story, while spending the remainder merely regurgitating it.
Like the first film, there are several storylines told somewhat out of continuity, but which end up converging at certain points late in the film. The primary plot revolves around the Aubrey (Tamblyn. The Ring), the sister of the protagonist from the first film, Karen (Gellar, Scooby-Doo 2), who wants to get to the bottom of how to stop the curse started in that house in Japan that affects anyone who dares enter it. The rage and deaths seem to have spread beyond the house, as similar events are occurring in an apartment complex in Chicago, as well as to three American schoolgirls who venture into the house on a dare, only to be terrorized by the crazed woman and young boy who once took up residence there.
This is the sixth time that director Takashi Shimizu has revisited this series (two Japanese TV films, the Japanese theatrical releases, and now the two Hollywood remakes), but it seems with each successive effort, his interest in the story wanes considerably. Perhaps he is bored by it all by now, or perhaps he just realizes that all people want is to be creeped out, because, outside of the ominous atmospheric elements and moments of booga-booga, there is barely an effort made to string together a legitimate story or some workable plot to keep us interested.
The scant storylines and bland characterizations just aren't enough for us to care one bit about any of them, so what we're left with is merely an exercise in creepy imagery and set-ups for a few jolts to get the young girls screaming in their theater seats. While the first film wasn't exactly a model of brilliantly developed narrative, this sequel offers nothing more than sensory stimuli, using sights and sounds to create the feeling of fright without giving us anything within the story to truly be frightened of. While the first film had a sense of newness on its side that made it somewhat effective as a straight-up shocker, we've seen all of the scary images in this sequel a few too many times to experience their original effect.
The Grudge 2 is only 95 minutes, but it plods along at an excruciatingly slow pace, padding out its sparse moments of dialogue at lengthy intervals. While Shimizu is still a master at setting up eerie scenes of tension, his talents would be far better served in something with a more substantial script. Without being able to care about the characters, all we are left to do is to wait for the deaths to finally come, and since most who watch this sequel will be fully expecting to see that which they've seen before, tedium results. It's hard to scream when your mouth is already engaged in the act of perpetual yawning.
©2006 Vince Leo