Amber Tamblyn, playing Sarah Michelle Gellar’s sister, comes to Tokyo to help Gellar, currently in a hospital and considered insane. The help is too little too late, and soon Tamblyn is contending with the same evil ghosts. Two other storylines intertwine with this one: a young American student goes into the evil house on a dare, and she and her two friends attract the unwelcome attentions of the spectral mother and son. And back in the States, a blended family moving into a new apartment is gradually torn apart by the influence of the malevolent duo.
When Takashi Shimizu revisited Ju-On as The Grudge for Western audience, he did so with a script that, while streamlining the original and making it more comprehensible, still stuck close to the story, and the resulting film was arguably superior to its predecessor. The Grudge 2, on the other hand, jettisons the story of Ju-On 2. That sequel had a pretty convoluted plot, but it built a quite the horrific charge, and was a great spook story. The new film’s storyline starts from a false premise (that the ghosts were previously confined to the house, when they manifestly were not) and proceeds from there to work diligently at creating a result that is nonsensical, repetitive, and dull.
If the film isn’t particularly scary, that isn’t the fault of the audio, which does its best to pick up the slack. The music is enveloping and very atmospheric. The environmental effects are strong, especially when it comes to the sinister creakings of floorboards in the house of evil and the like. The dialogue is free of distortion.
The picture quality is excellent as well. The many dark scenes have terrific blacks and are never murky. The colours and contrasts are strong, and the image is sharp. Edge enhancement isn’t an issue, and the grain is absolutely minimal. It’s a handsome transfer, no doubt about that. Too bad the film doesn’t live up to it.
The most unusual set of features here are three short films, introduced by Sam Raimi, that take place in the world of The Grudge. The first appears to owe its central image to Kathe Koja’s short story “Leavings,” but it’s still a disturbing sight. The cast and crew reel change just shows various members of both holding the reel change signs – this is not terribly interesting to anyone who wasn’t actually involved in the making of the film. The set of four making-of featurettes (“Holding a Grudge: Kayako and Toshio,” “East Meets West,” “The Grudge 2: Story Development” and “Ready When You Are, Mr. Shimizu”) are much better than the usual fare. There are also four deleted scenes and an alternate ending and epilogue. The 10 trailers do not include one for the feature itself.
Stick a fork in another franchise. This one’s done.
Special Features List
- Tales from The Grudge Short Films
- Cast and Crew Reel Change Montage
- 4 Making-of Featurettes
- Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending & Epilogue