Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, KaDee Strickland, Clea DuVall, Bill Pullman, Grace Zabriskie, Rosa Blasi, William Mapother, Ted Raimi, Ryo Ishibashi, Yoko Maki, Takako Fuji, Yuya Ozeki
Written by: Stephen Susco, based on the screenplay Ju-On: The Grudge by Takashi Shimizu
Directed by: Takashi Shimizu
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material, disturbing images/terror/violence, and some sensuality
Language: English and Japanese with English subtitles
Running Time: 96
Date: 10/22/2004

The Grudge (2004)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Tokyo Gory

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Japanese director Takashi Shimizu has already directed threemovies in the Grudge series in Japan, sothis American remake -- which he also directed -- has a kind of watered downfeel to it, as if it were just a necessary step to be taken in a long series ofevents. Yet it's a mildly effective scare picture with a handful of trulyfrightening images. Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as an exchange student in Japanwho volunteers as a caretaker to a depressed and nearly catatonic older lady.It turns out that merely entering the lady's house has put her on the hit listof some very upset ghosts, along with everyone else who has ever entered it.(Takako Fuji and Yuya Ozeki play the boy and girl ghosts both here and in themany Japanese versions.) That's basically the plot, and we follow the bloodyfates of everyone involved with either the house's former occupants or itscurrent ones, including an English professor (Bill Pullman) and an Americanhousewife (Clea DuVall). The film jumps back and forth in time with no realconnection or purpose and has even less of a conclusion than it has plot.Borrowing established fright devices from Wes Craven and John Carpenter, TheGrudge gets by on its accomplished, spookyatmosphere, even if we're asked to believe that Tokyo office buildings arealways dimly and moodily lit. Sam Raimi co-produced.

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