The Grudge 2 (2006)
Directed by: Takashi Shimizu
Written by: Stephen Susco, based on the film Ju-On: The Grudge written by Takashi Shimizu
Starring: Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel, Edison Chen, Jennifer Beals, Teresa Palmer, Misako Uno, Sarah Roemer, Matthew Knight, Takako Fuji, Ohga Tanaka, Joanna Cassidy, Jenna Dewan, Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sixth and most recent film in that spoooky Japanese haunted house series (apparently Shimizu's working on Ju-On: The Grudge 3), although only the second one to be shot in English.
This one picks up two years after The Grudge ends, with Sarah Gellar's sister coming to bring her back to America. While investigating the curse, the ghosts drag her into the bad house (that's not really fair, is it?). Then, two mean-spirited schoolgirls bring one of the unpopular girls from their class into the house as a joke and get offed by the mean-spirited spirits. The one remaining girl returns home to America, only to be pursued by the ghosts who take up residence in a Chicago apartment building and kill it's inhabitants.
That story isn't told in such a linear way, of course. All three parts of the story are going on at the same time, making the whole thing maddeningly confused. For some reason, Shimizu pulls that crap off in Ju-On: The Grudge, with even more threads, but not in this movie.
It's all just so Americanized. The first Grudge was, in fact, my introduction to Japanese horror cinema, and was strange and scary to me. Now that kind of thing is so commonplace that nothing in this movie is the least bit frightening. It also doesn't help that it has the same plot and the same scary shit as the first one, and seemed to lift a lot of stuff from Ring 2.
There are a few marginally disturbing bits - those ghosts are pretty unsettling - but none of it really stuck with me. The first film actually kept me awake for about a week and living in fear for a month and a half, but this one has no lasting side effects.
And I'm sorry but the ghosts in this one make no sense at all. I know, they are irrational beings, but there's something called suspension of disbelief and when the ghoulies have no rules whatsoever, I get annoyed. I can put up with a lot, you know. They didn't even seem that pissed off, either. It was more like they got off on scaring the crap out of people, and didn't have any other motives for doing what they did, really (unlike the ghosts in The Eye, say, whose actions make perfect sense. They just happen to be extremely grotesque looking). For example, how come Sarah Gellar and Edison Chen can be cursed for two years before anything bad happens to them?
I kind of like Takako Fuji, though. She doesn't do a whole lot in this movie, and I have yet to see her in anything else, but I just think she's cool. I dunno why.
The movie could have done with a more convincing story, better actors (most of them were okay, but a couple of them were just awful. The biggest problem was that Amber Tamblyn and Arielle Kebbel look almost identical), a better script and more original scares. In other words, they should have changed everything.