DVD Review: The Grudge 2
By Jeff Swindoll Feb 7, 2007, 14:58 GMT
The Grudge 2 tells the story of Aubrey Davis (Tamblyn), who discovers from her bedridden mother, that her sister Karen (Gellar) is in a hospital in Japan and under investigation for the death of her boyfriend. Her mother is too ill to make the trip to Tokyo and asks Aubrey to bring her sister home. Shortly after Aubrey arrives in Tokyo, reporter and photographer Eason (Chen), seeks her out and ...more
The popular American redo of the J-Horror series gets a sequel of its own. Sarah Michelle Gellar returns but the black haired ghost is also back to finish the business that it started in the Grudge.
Aubrey Davis (Amber Tamblyn) is told by her mother (Joanna Cassidy) that her sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is in a hospital in Japan (following the events of the first film). Her mother is too sick to travel so it’s up to Aubrey to go to Japan and help Karen, but Aubrey is considered the less competent sister and she had a fight with Karen before she left for Japan. Aubrey soon finds her sister, but their reunion is cut short by the evil force that haunts the house and destroys everything that enters into it.
A trio of schoolgirls goes to the haunted house from the first film and lock Allison (Arielle Kebbel) in the closet that leads into the attic. Meanwhile in Chicago, a family has moved their new stepmother (Jennifer Beals) into their apartment. Jake (Matthew Knight) is seemingly adjusting to his new stepmother, but he sees the neighbors escorting a mysterious figure into the apartment next door. Soon Jake is hearing strange noises from the apartment next door.
The Grudge was a popular film and a sequel was commissioned (as in the case of any successful horror film). The Grudge 2 is not a straight remake of the Ju-On 2. We find out in the disc’s special features that director Takashi Shimizu wouldn’t have done the film if it had been a remake of that film. He’s been on the Grudge wagon a while (2 Japanese films, the American remake, and this sequel) and wouldn’t do it if it was just supposed to be a retread of familiar ground.
That being said, some of it is a retread of familiar ground. It’s not that the film is an exact remake of the first (or even Ju-On 2), but the “scary Japanese girl and child” genre seems to have been done to death [insert rimshot here]. It’s even been the subject of several parodies.
The main character of this sequel is not as strong as Gellar was in the first film, but she’s also not supposed to be. The character has various issues that don’t make her the best person to encounter this malevolent presence. The film also has a prevailing sense of doom since, unlike most American horror films, there’s no way to stop the supernatural menace. Once you’ve fallen into its web – you’re dead whether you’re a good person or not. The film is one that has several good jump scares, but those expecting Gellar to stick around for the whole picture will be disappointed.
The Grudge is available in several flavors. There’s a theatrical version (102 minutes) and an unrated director’s cut (108 minutes). Both are presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and enhanced for 16x9 televisions.
I can’t comment on the differences since I only got the theatrical version for review. The special features appear to be the same on both discs. There are three featurettes that you can watch separately or use the “play all” function. First is the 15 minute “East meets West” and is about the production and decision to make a sequel.
It interviews executive producer Roy Lee, actor Edison Chen, producer Rob Tapert, J-Horror director Norio Tsuruta (Ringu 0 & Yogen), co-producer Shintaro Shimosawa, actresses Teresa Palmer, Arielle Kebbel, and Amber Tamblyn, co-producer Drew Crevello, Jennifer Beals, actress Sarah Roemer, actor Chris Cousins, director of photography Katsumi Yanagijima, and actress Jenna Dewan.
The second is the 11 minute “Grudge 2: Storyline Development” and adds interviews with co-producer Michael Kirk, director Takashi Shimizu, and producer Taka Ichise to the mix. The final is the 13 minute “Ready When You Are, Mr. Shimizu” and is about working with the J-horror director.
It features some of the folks above but adds Matthew Knight, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and production designer Iwao Saito. Next is an 8 minute collection of “Cast & Crew Reel Change” montage. This is a collection of cast and crew members with the clapperboards that is set to the film’s scary music. Finally there are about 3 minutes of deleted scenes.
Grudge 2 is more of the same, but different enough that it will entertain for the running time. I don’t know that it surpasses the original, either Japanese or American. Even though she’s getting old hat, that weird creaking, groaning noise that “scary Japanese ghost girl” makes still chills me (and we get to find out what that noise is all about in this movie).