The Grudge (2004)
Directed by: Takashi Shimizu. Written by: Stephen Susco, based on the movie Ju-On written by Takashi Shimizu.
Plot: About a house in which a man killed his wife and son and then committed suicide in a fit of rage not too long ago. The house is, of course, haunted, but the ghosts, instead of just tormenting whomsoever is in the house, set about basically assimilating the souls of anyone who even sets foot in the place. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays an American working as a nurse or something in Japan and somehow ends up going in the house (I think she’s looking after the current owner’s aging mother). She is marked or cursed or whatever by the ghosts and spends the rest of the movie trying to find a way to rid herself of the evil spirits or, if that doesn’t work out, destroy the house so that no one else will ever be able to go inside again.
Review: I saw this movie when I was, like, twelve or thirteen or something, and, call me chicken-shit, it really fucked me up. I spent honest to God two weeks sleeping with the light on and I haven’t been the same since.
The concept alone is really terrifying, taking the standard, formulaic haunted house thread and turning it into something much more disturbing. All you have to do is go inside the house and then you’re basically fucked. Really scary things are going to kill the shit out of you. Not just kill you, but assimilate your fucking soul. Bad shit.
So I have to think about that every time I go into somebody else’s house for the first time. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, maybe this is the house.*
On top of that is the actual horror itself - weird fucking creepy stuff that comes at you out of nowhere and just freaks the living hell out of you. Deeply scary stuff. I really haven’t gotten over it. This is the one movie that really terrified me as a young person.
Now. I’ve gone into a lot of discussion both internal and external regarding the Ring/Grudge thing. I saw The Grudge before The Ring and it was my introduction to Japanese-inspired horror cinema, sort of softening the blow of The Ring actually, so for me it’s way scarier.
This movie is not as good - I always thought it was a little more plebeian or something, and conceptually The Ring is actually much better but still. This movie scared the piss out of me, more than anything before or since (with the possible exception of this one scene in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. The one with the scary truck driver. You know what I'm talking about).
If I watched it now, I would probably be not as impressed but it will always have a certain imprint and is therefore valuable to me and deserving of this list. I guess.
Favourite Part: Takako Fuji, the woman who plays the female ghost, is a trained contortionist, which makes watching her doing her thing all the more disturbing and yet fascinating. I remember watching something, it may have been Cirque du Soleil, years and years ago (I may have been eight) on the CeeB and there was a contortionist. I've always found that feat both beautiful and sickening. Absolutely amazing.
Other versions: Multiple versions of Ju-On were made both before and after this movie, although I have a really difficult time keeping them straight. I have seen one of them, I think it was called Ju-On: The Grudge that was pretty good and basically the same plotline as this, plus a couple of threads.
Sequels: Grudge 2 was kind of lame, and Grudge 3 apparently was a direct to video release which slipped by my notice.
*This is an actual transcript of my thoughts, c. 2005
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