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The Mass Media

Get Scared Pre-Halloween With ‘The Grudge 2’

Get Scared Pre-Halloween With The Grudge 2
Get Scared Pre-Halloween With ‘The Grudge 2’

Massachusetts Daily Collegian (U. Massachusetts)

(U-WIRE) AMHERST, Mass. – Most horror movies’ downfalls result from their delving too far into explaining the big question: Why? Writers never seem to realize that the real fun comes from being scared to the point of peeing in your pants (maybe not but I wanted to make an allusion to a somewhat humorous scene in the movie) with as simple an explanation as possible. The “Grudge 2” does seek to answer that same question but not enough to bore us and turn the movie into complete trash. Sometimes the unexplained makes it all the more fun.

This sequel introduces new characters, including Karen’s sister, Aubrey, played by Amber Tamblyn (“Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”) Instead of being a dragged-on continuation of Karen’s story, the movie’s new group of victims becomes the main focus. As if it weren’t bad enough that all who so much as entered that house were doomed, the curse has now spread, terrorizing its poor victims across seas. It spreads so far as Chicago, by an International High School student who’s the butt of a cruel joke played by two ignorant school girls that are found in many horror movies.

Having some scenes shot in the U.S took away the original J-horror feel of “The Grudge” that added to its freshness. Watching a family being terrorized in an old Chicago apartment didn’t feel quite the same as watching a family being terrorized in a modern Tokyo apartment. It felt like a morph of American-style and Japanese-style horror. It’s great how Japanese directors can amp up your fear in complete daylight rather than the usual American-style haunting in the dead of night. After watching movie after movie with a bunch of mindless screaming girls (not to say this movie didn’t have its share of those) it’s good to breakaway from the shriek-induced headaches, sharp appliances, and mind-numbing amounts of gore we’re all so used to.

The little blue meowing boy, and the revenge-seeking woman, which were trademark images from the original, still conduct much of the major haunting of the sequel. Takako Fuji, who plays Kayako, gives the same chilling performance as a ghost with a grudge. The snaps of Kayako’s neck every time she moves and her crackling voice are creepy, but in a deliciously enjoyable way. She’s becoming pretty representative of most ghosts in J-horror films. “The Grudge 2” includes some classic American horror film scenes that leave you asking, “How stupid can one person be?” Honestly, how long does it take a girl being chased by a vengeful ghost to realize running through poorly lit empty rooms isn’t the best idea? Scenes like these added to some of the humor in the film. It’s usually the characters’ ignorance that keeps the story going for as long as it does until it finally results in their demise.

In terms of the scare factor, it wasn’t bone-chilling, hair-raising, mind-boggling scary. There were the occasional twitches from scenes that built up tension and released it whenever Kayako popped out of nowhere, which were still more or less anticipated. Her face has the ability to generate slight chills that pulsate throughout your entire body. Toshio’s meowing is never all too frightening, just unusual. With decades of movies that have conditioned us to be less afraid, it does become more of a challenge for writers and directors to try and get us jumping out of our seats or cause us to turn away from the screen from a scene too horrifying to watch.

I’ll admit I was somewhat disappointed that there was no extremely exciting/freakish display of Kayako’s revenge, although there is a scene in the dark room which is particularly well done. The climax culminates in a series of fast-paced scenes of disappearing, dying, and dead characters, but it lacks any real element of horror. Maybe I was expecting too much. The gratifying scene in the original was the climax when Kayako crawled her way, in that wonderfully grotesque way she moves, to Karen attempting to kill her.

With the end of the final scene and the rolling credits, I was left pretty satisfied, surprised even at how much I enjoyed the movie. Most horror sequels have me wishing they had just ended it with the first movie. They usually kill an already good thing. Continuing this movie complimented the first movie well. In terms of sequels, “The Grudge 2” ranks high up there. If you’re looking for a good scare, I doubt this will really please you. If you’re looking for a movie that makes sense or has any hint of logic, you’ll find yourself at a loss. If you’re looking for something fun and somewhat different than the usual takes on ghosts, buy yourself a ticket soon. It looks like the string of J-horror remakes and their affects on audiences is wearing down.