A review of “The Grudge” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: **

Rating: PG-13 for jumpy moments and gore

Run Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

 

 

If you thrilled to The Ring you’re sure to delight in The Grudge, an artsy thriller that maintains a Japanese horror sensibility while catering to gullible American audiences.

I am not a fan.  There are only so many times I can watch a naïve cast member climb a steep and creepy staircase to locate a mysterious sound and still retain an air of suspended disbelief. 

A minimal, stylish look and sinister atmosphere support a ho-hum storyline and a pedestrian script.  Sarah Michelle Gellar is up front and center as happy-go-lucky Kate, an American exchange student in Tokyo who’s volunteering at a care center for that all-important social welfare credit.

Her first assignment is to cover for a fellow care-giver who didn’t show up to work.  Little does Kate know that her predecessor has already been out to the Williams residence and found ghosts in them there walls.

Not just any ghosts, but the vengeful spirits of a wife and child who were murdered in a jealous rage by their husband/father.  They haunt their former abode with an eerie and spiteful presence, persuading all who cross their threshold to take his or her own life.

Director Takashi Shimizu (who also directed the Japanese original Ju-On: The Grudge) makes the most of his American debut.  Cobwebbed attics, mysterious wet footprints, and scraggly black-haired wraiths who float into view when you least expect them; the chain of terror has been set in motion and nothing is going to stop it.  Except perhaps a freshly-scrubbed coed.

I could be a believer if the film’s characters weren’t such obeisant gluttons for punishment.  Why don’t they just run? If they did we wouldn’t be paying our hard-earned dollars to sit in a darkened theater and be terrorized by someone else’s stupidity.