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The Grudge (remake)

Unlike The Manchurian Candidate I haven't seen the original Ju-On: The Grudge so no comparisons at all here... except perhaps some anticipated ones based on my viewing of the two versions of The Ring.

The Hollywood remake of The Ring was slicker than the original but felt the need to go pepper the story with inexplicable special effects sequences. (Though perhaps I shouldn't criticize the lack of explanation given the obliqueness of a lot of Japanese genre films.)

I got the impression there was at least a bit of that going on in The Grudge - the film makers even commented on the fact that one moment (where Sarah Michelle Gellar's character Karen is taking a shower) was gratuitous other than for shock value.

I liked the sense of displacement established by having the American characters in Japan (something obviously missing from the original) - it reminded me of Lost in Translation. On the other hand, while it set mood it never had any story significance.

The film had an interesting structure - with lengthy asides and flashbacks. The penultimate sequence married the main story with the flashback in an interesting way - the suggestion that the Bill Pullman character was aware of Karen was nicely done and not turned into a schtick.

On the other hand the ending, while providing explanations, lacked resolutions. The story just seemed to come to a halt. I was surprised when the credits rolled.

The first physical manifestation of the big badness came quite early and via a not-entirely successful optical effect. I thought that this reveal would suck the dread out of the movie but Takashi Shimizu and screen writer Stephen Susco managed to place a few more scary moments in the film - though the law of diminishing returns definitely applied. Kudos for managing to throw in a fright in a crowded, daylight scene, though most moments did take place in accordance with horror movie convention, ie alone and in the dark.

The audio commentary was entertaining. Making the movie was obviously a fun experience for the participants. Sarah Michelle Gellar dominates the track but in a light-hearted and informative way. The observations on the differences between Hollywood and Japanese film making were interesting. Japanese movie makers for instance place an emphasis on practical "on-set" effects, verisimilitude during the process of film making. In contrast Hollywood tends to rely more on effects inserted during post production. This doesn't just apply to special effects - optical or practical - but also to, for instance, actually carrying out a phone conversation or listening to a voice mail message.

The Grudge doesn't break any ground but it succeeds on its own terms. Worth seeing once.

Given the lambasting that Hollywood's The Ring 2 got (which, I understand, diverted from the Japanese sequel due to the perceived need to bring back Naomi Watts), it'll be interesting what approach the Hollywood sequel to The Grudge will take .

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 2, 2005 1:15 PM.

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