The Grudge

Release Date: October 22, 2004

Movie of the Day for Monday, June 21, 2004
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We have a grudge against Sarah for the last season or two of Buffy.

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Position Staff In Brief
56/126 Kim Hollis A solid little horror film. I actually followed it better than the Japanese version.

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When Japanese director Takashi Shimizu, a then 28-year-old industry fledgling, debuted a couple of straight-to-video releases in 2000, expectations were low. Once his two titles, which loosely translate as Ju-On: The Curse and Ju-On: The Curse 2, proved unexpectedly popular with audiences, he was able to justify a theatrical reproduction of the projects. Using only one returning member of the original casts, Takako Fuji as Kayako Saeki, Shimizu set out to combine his first two projects into one terrifying tale. That outing, Ju-On: The Grudge, proved so successful that a sequel was quickly output. In fact, there was only a Matrix sequel-esque seven month separation between the releases of the first and second Ju-On productions. Quickly thereafter, Hollywood took note and began taking meetings on how to turn The Grudge into the next The Ring.

The unusual decision eventually made by Sony was that no one understood the source material better than Shimizu himself. Hiring another director to try to adapt his work would be less effective than going straight to the source of all things Ju-On. The result is that Shimizu will now be making his North American directorial debut with this project. This directing tactic has been so admired by competing studios that when director Noam Murro dropped out of The Ring sequel, DreamWorks quickly duplicated this decision by hiring Ringu and Ringu 2 director Hideo Nakata to adapt his prior effort for North American audiences.

Now that we have discussed the back story, the obvious question is “What is The Grudge?” The answer is this:

“JU-ON: a curse born of a grudge held by someone who dies in the grip of powerful angers. It gathers in the places frequented by that person in life, working its spell on those who come into contact with it and thus creating itself anew.”

Effectively, it’s a supernatural phenomenon that occurs when a person dies while in an enraged emotional state. Their soul becomes a tortured ghost (called an onryou) bent on making the living who stumble upon their domain of terror suffer unspeakable horrors. The curse thereby constantly propagates itself by being passed around from host to host in a manner akin to a virus.

The American remake of The Grudge will star Sarah Michelle Gellar (currently seen pratfalling all over the place in Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed) as a Toyko resident working to become a nurse. She lives a relatively idyllic existence with her boyfriend Doug (Jason Behr of Roswell, who also once co-starred on Buffy the Vampire Slayer alongside Gellar) until the day Alex, Karen’s boss, asks her to care for Claire. An elderly American woman who is near-catatonic, Claire lives with her son and daughter-in-law, Matthew and Jennifer. While checking in on Claire, Karen discovers an escalating series of unexplained phenomena including apparitions of the undead. Eventually, these events lead her to discover a young boy who is tied up in a closet with his hands and feet taped together. With his cat.

It’s up to Karen and Doug to discover exactly who is responsible for this and what the hell is going on with all of the strange events unfolding before their eyes.

In case you aren’t already sold on the talents of Shimizu, consider that he cast a 16-year-old virtual unknown for the part of Mizuho Tamura in the original STV 2000 production of Ju-On. That girl, Chiaki Kuriyama, was so impressive that Quentin Tarantino cast her for an upcoming production of his. This allowed her to permanently catapult into the North American psyche as Go Go Yubari, morning star-wielding teen psychopath. And we have Shimizu (and Battle Royale director Kinji Fukasaku) to thank for it all.

Originally planned for production in North America, The Grudge instead wound up being filmed in Japan. In addition to this nice dose of authenticity, two members of the 2003 productions have been cast to reprise their roles. Fuji will for the third time portray Kayoko and Yuya Ozeki will once more play Toshio. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Grudge
Main Cast Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, Clea DuVall
Supporting Cast William Mapother, Kadee Strickland, Bill Pullman, Grace Zabriskie, Courtney Webb, Ted Raimi
Director Takashi Shimizu
Screenwriter Takashi Shimizu, Stephen Susco
Distributor Sony/Columbia
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating PG-13
Running Time 96 minutes
Screen Count 3,245
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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