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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Grudge 2 (2006)
(2020 Reissue)


Starring: Sarah Michael Geller, Amber Tamblyn, Jennifer Beals, Edison Chen and Sarah Roemer
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 02 November 2020

Aubrey Davis visits her, frankly, rude mother who is sick in bed, and is sent from America to Tokyo to trace her missing sister, Karen. Her sibling has been hospitalised after setting light to a house. She soon learns about the dark forces which manifest themselves in the house after an uncontrollable rage unleashed unspeakable acts in the past. Aubrey is joined by a Japanese investigative journalist/photographer; together they attempt to uncover the origins of the curse, and its possible connection to a witch who removed the evil from individuals and put it into her daughter...

I reviewed the DVD release of the Americanised version of Takashi Shimizu’s The Grudge back in 2005, when I was only knee-high to a cat spirit ghost boy. Barely three days after the film was released into US cinemas, the go-ahead was given to make a sequel. Of course, the much better Japanese original had already spawned a sequel, but Shimizu – who had made the American remake of The Grudge, too – was determined this time the story would be different. He and his team had several meetings with producers Sam Raimi (of The Evil Dead, and Spider-Man fame), Rob Tapert (Xena: Warrior Princess) and Taka Ichise in order to agree a premise. It took some time, with Shimizu being given the directive that it had to maintain the Japanese ghost atmosphere but be something an American audience could understand. Hmm. The obligation to come to a compromise reflects badly on the finished product. Whereas the remake of The Grudge was slightly sub-standard to the Japanese original, but still a solid and enjoyable movie, this remake of The Grudge 2 is a bit of a mess.

The Grudge was filmed out of sequence in order to reveal little by little what occurred to create the Ju-On or Curse Grudge, when a person dies in a powerful rage and leaves an impression on the house which taints everyone who comes into contact with it. The same attempt is made here, but because there are three storylines in two locations in two time periods, it comes across as a bit of a mess. Additionally, the same scares applied in the first film are rehashed here, removing much of the film’s power of the unknown. Cue pale, dark-haired lady with wide eyes, and almost naked little boy with cat spirit tendencies. Even the set pieces are not nearly so meticulously honed. They are not only overused but a little shoddy in their editing. One particular scene in a film developing darkroom is very well done. Pictures of the front of the house show an indistinct shadow, which seems to move to the forefront of the picture until the dark-haired spirit slowly emerges from a tray of developing fluid.

It’s a shame that the movie doesn’t work as well as it should because most of the character performances are pretty good, particularly Amber Tamblyn who plays Karen’s sister, Aubrey. Sarah Michelle Gellar (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) returns after playing the lead in the first film. The American producers were particularly keen to have her return in some format, as they viewed her as a box office pull. However, she plays a minor role in this one. There has been a number of films in The Grudge franchise, but the only two you need to see are Ju-On: The Grudge, and Ju-On: The Grudge 2 – the Japanese originals with English subtitles (not dubbed).

The Blu-ray HD is clean enough, but could be sharper. It would be interesting to see what a prospective 4-Film set might look like in 4K (particularly the Japanese originals). Extras include: Grudge 2 Storyline Development; East Meets West Featurette; Ready When You Are, Mr Shimizu; Holding a Grudge – Kayako & Toshio Featurette; Deleted Scenes: When Closet Door Opens, Itako’s Film, The Passport, Aubrey’s Dream; Alternate Ending & Epilogue.


Ty Power

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