Film — The Grudge (PG-13)

The Grudge (PG-13)

by Amy Diaz

Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to her Buffyesque roots as a girl chased by a deadly curse in The Grudge, an American remake of a Japanese horror film by the same name.

Except that Buffy Summers (yes, of the late, great Buffy the Vampire Slayer) would have smacked Karen (Gellarís character in The Grudge) in the head and said something to the effect of ďvictim much?Ē

Karen and practically everyone else in the movie hear unsettling sounds in a spooky Tokyo house and set off to examine them, alone, usually without any kind of weapon or flashlight, poking their witless heads into dark corners. Oh, no, he was snatched by an unseen force? Dear God, how could this have been predicted? Excuse me, I must get back to the cave on Mars where Iíve been living since 1926.

The movie begins, more or less, with the tale of Karen, an exchange student living in Tokyo with her American boyfriend Doug (the ever ineffective Jason Behr of Roswell fame). Karen, some kind of social worker/nurse in training, gets a call to help out a near-catatonic late-middle-aged American woman (Grace Zabriske) whose regular helper is missing. Karen goes to the house and finds it an empty mess, except for the mumbling old woman. While cleaning up, Karen hears the Suspicious Sounds of Wrongness and searches the house to find their source. Eventually, she finds an obliviously creepy child inside a taped-up closet. Despite his spooky eyes and the evil-looking cat that follows him around, she lets him out. Naturally, this causes all sorts of weirdness leading to the death of the old woman and Karenís encounter with Something Scary.

And then the movie enters an endless ping-pong of flashbacks and scenes of Karen, woven together as exposition and Karenís search for just what it was that frightened her so a the house. The story involves an American couple, their mother (the old woman who dies in Karenís care), her other daughter, an American professor and his wife, a Japanese detective and three of his colleagues and Karenís adviser at the care center. As it unravels, two things become clear: (a Karen is probably doomed to some horrible painful death and (b real estate must be really scarce in Tokyo if, even after more than a dozen deaths, the house remains a viable dwelling.

The Grudge has plenty of those boo! moments, accompanied by swelling string music and an increasingly worried actor stretching out his or her doomed hand to open the door to the Room of Imminent Death. It looks goodómoody and dark with dramatic lighting when called for. But itís otherwise completely standard, another pre-cut horror movie that varies not a bit from every other spooky-noise-in-the-attic movie.

- Amy Diaz 

2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH