The Ring was an almost overnight success. Based on a Japanese horror film, it was “Americanized” and captured audiences with its creepy cinematography and wickedly sinister story. It was inevitable that the formula would be tried again.
You would think that The Grudge has everything necessary to continue that successful story. The Grudge is based on not one but a well known series of haunted house films in Japan. Spider Man’s own Sam Raimi teams up with Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Ge…lar, and the result is a bit short of mediocre. The first problem I had with this film is how difficult it is to follow. Shifting timelines and choppy editing make you work hard to keep up. Now, I don’t mind putting in a little effort in a movie from time to time. The serious flaw here is it simply isn’t worth it. I never really end up caring for the characters who were in danger. What is perhaps worse, I find no sympathy or interest in what or why things are happening. When the payoff finally comes, it seems like years of your life have been wasted, and frankly I was too weary for there to be any effect.
An American nurse (Gellar) is working for a care facility in Japan. She is called upon to assist with an elderly woman whose regular helper has disappeared along with her entire family. Strange activities haunt anyone who enters the house.
There isn’t much to the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The film is dialogue heavy. The musical soundtrack is, perhaps appropriately, subtle. You’ll find a good sub response during the obligatory startle scenes, but nothing more. Ambient sounds are almost a non-entity. The outstanding exception occurs when you hear scurrying from the attic. The creature sounds cause more imagery of dysentery than scary.
There is an audio commentary that is quite overcrowded. There are 8 members of the cast and crew, most notably Gellar and Sam and Ted Raimi. It sounds like they are attending a party and their charged presence contrasts too much with the film itself. I just wish I had as much fun watching this film as they obviously did making it.
The Grudge is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. While there are no serious flaws in the transfer, it is disturbing in its clarity. At times this film looks too sterile for the material. Subtle color filters are used in an attempt to guide you through the complex timeline, and they are reproduced moderately well here. Blacks are at least adequate if not stunning. The greatest impediment here is an incredible amount of shimmering. There are a ton of silver and gray surfaces which never translate quite right on video. I’m sure this film looked better on film.
There is nearly an hour worth of behind the scenes material on “A Powerful Rage”. You can watch the entire feature or any of its 5 segments. The most interesting part of the presentation is the cultural discussions of shooting the Japanese subject matter as well as the experience of the cast and crew on location in Japan.
The second featurette, “Under the Skin”, is a short feature on the psychological impact of scary movies.
You will find a much better example of this style of film by watching The Ring or even the original Ringu. This film barely warrants a rainy afternoon rent. If you choose to ignore my advice and pick this one up, be warned. It causes “severe lethargy and mild psychosis”.
Special Features List
- Audio commentary
- “A Powerful Rage” behind the scenes featurette
- “Under the Skin” featurette