The Grudge

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Horror films from Japan are wonderful because they tend not to head straight for the gross-out splatter effect but for the atmosphere. The Grudge is an American-sponsored remake of a Japanese film. This remake was directed by the director of the original and keeps its original Japanese location. I suppose the effort was directed at making the film accessible to wider audiences by avoiding the double whammy of "Read-the-film" and bad dubbing.

What I like best about Japanese Horror films, which include the film Ringu from which The Ring was derived, is that they are surreal, atmospheric, and never quite complete. While The Grudge makes better sense than The Ring at the end, you still get the sense of things not quite wrapped up. You don't really know the full back-story, nor do you find out what really happened to precipitate the curse that seems to march on so relentlessly. There is so much that is still vague and mysterious, while not seeming incomplete, and that is what makes this film so satisfying. Unlike The Ring that seemed to end with an end to the curse that some revives itself a la Freddy or Jason, this film makes no pretense of an end and you are given a reasonable explanation of why.

The Japanese sensibility, when relatively untrampled by western influences, will seem rather naturally surreal to a western audience. The Japanese way of thinking and even perhaps perceiving is such that while we can appreciate it, we can have no deep understanding of what all of the currents. Thus, it comes off as disjointed and surreal. Add to that the very complex time-scheme of this movie with its in medias res beginning and multiple cuts forward and back to gradually peel back layers of the story and reveal all of the nuances. There must be seven or eight chronological jumps and juxtapositions through the film creating even a greater sense of disorientation (no pun intended).

Well worthwhile for adults and older teens, much too intense for younger members of the audience. If you want to spend an evening with creeping unease, this is the movie for you.


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I loved The Grudge and The Ring freaked me out, so I'd have to agree with you.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 14, 2005 8:09 AM.

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