The Grudge 2
directed by Takashi Shimizu
(Sony, 2006)

Unlike The Grudge, which I found to be a total dud of a horror movie, The Grudge 2 actually has its creepier moments. In my opinion, this sequel is vastly superior to the original, so I'm a little perplexed as to why it has gotten such bad reviews.

Like the original, it tells its story in a nonsequential manner. That's not as big a problem this time around, as you know to expect it, but I was a little frustrated by the fact that one big story arc seemed to have nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the movie until the very end. Of course, what matters here, even more than the story, is the scare factor, and Grudge 2 greatly ratchets up the creepiness and atmosphere to satisfying levels, and it does so from the very start.

The story picks up immediately after the events chronicled in The Grudge, as Aubrey Davis (Amber Tamblyn of Joan of Arcadia fame) is dispatched to Japan to bring her sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) home. Gellar turns in a memorable cameo appearance, but the Grudge mantle is quickly placed solely around the neck of Tamblyn as she tries to figure out what happened to her sister. With no one but an interested journalist (Edison Chen) to help her, she eventually succeeds in learning much more than is healthy about "the house" and the curse associated with it.

At the same "time" (remember, this is "Grudge time"), you have three young girls who make the mistake of visiting the ghost house; it's basically a prank by two cool girls to scare new girl Allison (Arielle Kebbel) -- scare her they do, but let's just say this prank really, really backfires. It makes for a great, really creepy opening to the film and supplies some great moments the rest of the way. Then you have yet another story arc playing out that has the creepy little Japanese boy doing double duty in a Chicago apartment building. Following the arrival of a mystery guest next door, things take a very bad turn for the family of a little boy who is just far too curious for his own good.

I didn't really care for this storyline, as it just seemed to interrupt all the good creepy stuff going on in Japan, the changes in family behavior happen far too drastically and, most importantly, it's hard to put this aspect of the plot into context until the very end.

When I reviewed The Grudge, I said it would only be scary if you think hair and kids wearing mascara are scary. The Grudge 2 isn't what I would call scary, either, but it does deliver a number of really creepy moments. Gellar makes a most memorable exit from the story, Allison's experience in the "closet" may have you gripping the arms of your chair and Aubrey makes for a most sympathetic character. Tamblyn doesn't have the screen presence of a Sarah Michelle Gellar, but the all-too-brief appearance of Jenna Dewan (the hottest woman on planet Earth) is enough to make you forget Gellar altogether. If you weren't impressed with the first film, you should definitely give this sequel a try.

review by
Daniel Jolley

1 March 2008

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