Director: Takashi Shimizu
Released: November 2004
I remember at the time of release it was a surprise that Takashi Shimizu decided that he was going to return from directing the original and do the American remake as well, but in the end, this was probably a good decision as it meant that the film still had those j-horror elements that might have been lost if a wester director had taken the helm.
Now there was always going to be comparisons to The Ring which of the original Japanese film I found to be the scarier of the two franchises, but when it comes to the American remakes I feel that it’s The Grudge that is the better movie, partly because of the decision not to move the entire plot to America, but instead to focus American students studying in Tokyo and in the process adding an extra layer of a foreign culture to the mix.
The story is a complicated one, that for sure, which might turn off a few viewers who prefer thair horror a lot more simple and there are few parts of the plot that are never fully explained, but where the film succeeds is the slow-paced plot that creates tension and creepiness throughout, leading to multiple moments that send chills down your spine. The movie could easily pass for a drama that has moments of scariness similar in feel to The Sixth Sense or Hereditary.
Sarah Michelle Gellar shines in her role, it’s by far her best performance by a mile, which I feel is mostly down to her finally being given a role where she isn’t just eye-candy or comic relief. Of the Japanese, the little boy Toshio played by Yuya Ozeki was brilliant and leaves a creepy lasting impression in your mind for years to come, which isn’t a surprise given that this was his third reprisal in the role of Toshio, having played him in the original version as well as it’s a sequel.
I don’t think anyone who enjoys a good supernatural horror film will be disappointed by The Grudge, it hits all the right notes and the few jump-scares that were placed throughout the plot felt earnt rather than cheapy put in to cause a scream. The only real downside is the slightly over-complicated plot and some loose ends that were lost in translation from the original to the remake and yes there are a few moments you may see coming, but The Grudge still stands head and shoulders above most of the horror films that were being released around the early ’00s. That being said I would still implore you to watch the original first as of the two, that’s the much better film, especially before the remake comes out in 2020.