The Grudge 2

1 stars


17th October 2006

This site is holding a particular grudge of its own at the moment, what with our recent rant on the ubiquity of sequels and remakes. There's one dude out there who's perhaps more guilty of such crimes than anyone else on the planet, and he shows no signs of slowing; his name is Takashi Shimizu and he's the man behind the recent horror phenomenon (and I use the term very loosely) of the Ju-On series, better known as The Grudge. Essentially a modern haunted house story about evil spirits and moon-faced children, it's a concept that's been recycled by Shimizu no less than six times since 2000 - that's one re-hash a year - in Korean, Japanese and English, with each new instalment offering continually diminished returns. It doesn't take a genius, therefore, to realise that this Americanised sequel is the worst so far, the most rancid of a barrel of bad apples; the series has jumped the shark so far, it's landed on the beach in a big pile of dog shit. Get this, the actual tagline is "What once was trapped, will now be unleashed." I can sympathise, I just had eggs.

How many times can you retread the same ground? There's a house in Japan, in which resides the evil spirits of previous tenants, a boy and his mother who were murdered in a fit of rage by a jealous husband. Anyone who enters it eventually ends up being haunted by said spooks and will be killed in a grisly and ridiculous manner - one unlucky soul in a recent Japanese chapter was done in by a killer wig. Here, Sarah Michelle Gellar's Karen from the American remake has avoided death by toupee but is locked up in a mental hospital, where she meets a predictably early demise, leaving her sister Aubrey (Tamblyn) to take up the slack. Despite every single person who's entered the house dying in 'mysterious circumstances', still no one has figured out that something might be rotten at 88 Acacia Avenue. Our friend Aubrey unfortunately suffers from 'stupid bitch syndrome' and gamely traipses around the house, unaware she's just subjected herself to a further hour of tedium. Meanwhile, a bunch of schoolgirls are deservedly cursed after trespassing on someone else's property (that'll learn 'em), while the residents who share an apartment block with Arielle Kebbel's student find themselves acting strangely. Sorry, that should read 'acting badly'.

This is not just a bad movie, this is offensively bad; I was paid to see this movie, but I still felt shortchanged. It's tired, tawdry stuff you've seen a dozen times before; Shimizu keeps plugging away with the same old scares, mainly comprised of the pasty-faced boy mewing like a neutered cat and the goth-like girl hiding in shadows. Sure, you'll jump out of your seat a few times, but that's natural when such cheap shots are used; loud noises and jump cuts are not the tools of a fine artist. (You could get the same response by walking up behind someone in the street and screaming at the top of your lungs - the person would be shocked, but not particularly happy about it). Furthermore, he's written some bullshit plot device in where the curse is elaborated on; apparently, the young girl who was murdered had been fed evil spirits by her mother, so the whole thing about 'being killed in the grip of a murderous rage' thing is kind of redundant. Aubrey travels all the way to a crap shack in Tokyo to find the girl's mother, who, wouldn't you know it, speaks perfect English. Because Japanese people speaking Japanese is clearly too confusing for the mouth-breathers The Grudge 2 is aimed at.

Remember in the originals, where the monsters hid in the cupboard, or better, under the duvet? Now that really got under your skin; these creatures infiltrating the holy sanctuary of your own personal safety blanket. Well, there's nothing even approaching anything that scary here. Remake your own movie six times in as many years, and you might find the ideas running a bit low, so what do you do? Hey, why not think up bullshit ways to shoehorn some scares into the story, by completely buttfucking your own murky mythology and just shove a load of random shit in there? Blue-faced croaking zombies? Go with the flow! Small children hiding in hoodies? Ooh, topical! A scary woman rising from a photograph in a darkroom while a journalist stands there gawping like a fucking invalid? Whatever! There's one cool scene where a hot young cheerleader goes to see her friend, who opens the door, chugs a whole quart of milk and then throws it back up into the carton - it's suitably creepy, but what the hell is it doing in this movie? In trying to get some original scares in there, the whole thing is rendered ridiculous - it's hard to be frightened when you're laughing your ass off.

The Grudge 2 is spectacularly awful, the kind of terrible movie that's completely unaware of how ridiculous it looks: someone needs to tell Mr. Shimizu that children with greasy hair and Halloween make-up on aren't scary, and haven't been since about 1998. Personally I'm sick to death of J-horror and hope I'm not alone, because this kind of gore-free, 'psychological terror' is completely diluting the genre; I can't remember the last time I was genuinely frightened by a movie. Maybe it's because I've grown up, maybe it's because I know there are no monsters under the bed (wait... nope, nothing) or maybe it's because the real world is a lot more frightening than anything you'll see at the cinema. Or maybe, just maybe, it's just because I'm sick of seeing the same fucking movie re-packaged, re-hashed and regurgitated over and over and over again. If you want to feel that primordial fear manifest in the pit of your stomach, then give this the widest berth possible; you're much better off having eggs instead. Ali

More:  Horror  Sequels  Stinkers
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