by Shrub 10/26/04
If you read my write-up of Ju-On: The Grudge you might know a little about my mindset going in to the remake: that it had a lot to live up to, but, the opportunity was there for it to be an even BETTER movie. The good news is, in a lot of ways, it actually succeeded. To my (pleasant) surprise, I was very impressed with The Grudge.
The Grudge works much better than Ju-On as a stand-alone movie. Ju-On, being part of a series is a little foggy on details for someone that has not seen the earlier installments. The remake gives you the whole story and some neat new twists. It starts out a bit slow, including maybe the stiffest exchange between two supposed lovebirds that I have ever seen. For the most part, the American actors are a detriment, and there are a few inanities in the dialogue, with a couple of doozies issued by Buffy herself. The script and acting was making me nervous at first, but give it a half hour or so and then look out. Besides, Bill Pullman and Ted Raimi make up for the casting miscues in my opinion.
The non-linear structure remains, following each character that encounters Toshio and his mother individually to their conclusions and this gives us plenty of opportunities for scares which director Takashi Shimzu delivers. I guess he's had alot of practice by now as this is his fifth Ju-On/Grudge flick.
Things I really dug include the silhouette/black ghost on the security monitor which when compared to the traditional hazy and white apparition just screams evil entity (and why is an elbow jerk, done just right, so freaking creepy?). The thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, of the hanging man… how could you not tear out of there falling all over yourself with that beating in your brain? This scene was also beautiful how plenty was left to the imagination. Also, the return of Yuya Ozeki as Toshio was definitely welcome.
Negatives included the shorter, less intense stair scene and changed up (Buffy-ized?) ending. Overall this is a great ride though. Anything that gets my arm-hairs up this many times is recommended. Go to it. I love the sub-genre, keep 'em coming.