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October 2006

By Wilson Morales


Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Producers: Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Taka Ichise
Screenwriter: Stephen Susco
Composer: Christopher Young
Cast: Amber Tamblyn, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Arielle Kebbel, Jennifer Beals, Teresa Palmer, Takako Fuji, Ryo Ishibashi, Misako Uno, Shaun Sipos, Edison Chen
Reviewed at: AMC Empire 25, NYC


When the American remake of the Japanese film, The Grudge (2004), came to theaters it basically added more fire to the blazing horror genre at the time, with the “Scream” franchise already a hit as well as The Ring. Inevitably a sequel would be made, The Grudge 2, but unlike its Japanese counterpart, the title is only relevant in name only. Not only is this film pointless, but Sarah Michelle Gellar is in danger of resurrecting her stalled career with an appearance that she could have done by cyberspace.

As the film starts off, Trish is being verbally abused by new husband/ boyfriend Bill (Cousins) while she serves him his breakfast. Before you know it, Trish pours hot coffee over his heads and hits his face with a hot pan. Cut to Tokyo where Vanessa (Palmer) and best friend Miyuki (Uno) takes unsuspecting classmate Allison (Krebbel) to the very same house Karen Davis (Gellar) tried to burn down in “The Grudge”. In convincing Allison that she will be able to join their clique after going inside with them and telling her the haunted story regarding the house and the murders that place inside, the girls lock Allison in the closet only to be frightened themselves when all doesn’t go as planned and everyone goes running out scared out of their minds. Meanwhile, Aubrey has returned home in LA when her mother (Cassidy) tells her that Karen is being held in the hospital and that she killed her boyfriend while trying to burn down the house. Berating Aubrey into bringing Karen home, Audrey reluctantly goes off to Japan to comply with her mother’s wishes, not knowing what fate lies ahead; while in Chicago, Trish and Bill are bringing her things into the apartment while Jake has started to see little Toshio (the ghostly dead boy from The Grudge) menacing around the building. Toshio is not only able to appear in Chicago, but he along with his mother Kayako Saeki, make appearances everywhere else around the parties involved to devastating results as Aubrey and cop Eason try to solve the mystery that plagued Karen while the girls deal with the consequences of entering the house.

Director Takashi Shimizu must have needed some American dollars for him to come back and completely revamp the story with an American feel to it. Unlike the Japanese films, where bodies are piling up, characters just disappear into the wind when the unexpected occurs. Not only is there no plot connecting the stories, but several elements go unexplained such as if the ghostly mother and appears to those who enter the house, how are the others affected. As the evil spirit travels with in the film, so does the time frame, as one character is in two settings at the same time. The moment of spookiness is also wasted constantly with the numerous fade-outs after each “spook”, moving on to the next character, as opposed to staying with one character and following up on what just happened. It’s a waste of talent for everyone, including Sarah Michelle Gellar. Being that she’s the only leftover from the first film, it’s a crying shame that she has less to do here and play Jamie Lee Curtis (from Halloween 2) without the dialogue. For Jennifer Beals, a horror genre may gain her new fans but she’s better off keeping her day job on “The L Word”. As lead in the film, Amber Tamblyn doesn’t look credible enough to deal with the crisis in hand, but then again, she can’t fault her for taking a film outside the teenage girly films she’s known for. In most of her films, Arielle Kebbel is blonde and with decent parts as with this summer’s “John Tucker Must Die”. Here’s Kebbel is placed with a dark wig and acting accordingly in a horror film. Everyone is acting with their Horror school 101 notes in hand. “The Grudge 2” has no substance, no thrill, no suspense, numerous fade-outs, and finally no explanation. Better to rent the original.