starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, William Mapother, Clea DuVall, KaDee Strickland, Grace Zabriski, Ryo Ishibashi, Yoko Maki, Yuya Ozeki and Bill Pullman
written by Stephen Susco
directed by Takeshi Shimizu
This is another Japanese horror movie re-done in English. It’s good, too. I felt chills on my skin, and my scalp tingled. You should see it. It’s a haunted house story based on “Ju-on: The Grudge,” written and directed by Takeshi Shimizu - ghosts killing out of revenge from beyond the grave anyone who enters the house they occupy. Takeshi Shimizu directed this English version as well. I have seen the original in Japanese, and I think it is even scarier. I thought the same thing about the movie version of the Koji Suzuki book, The Ring.
Unlike The Ring (directed in English by Gore Verbinski, starring Naomi Watts), which was completely re-set in America in its English version, The Grudge in English was still set in Japan, involving expatriates living here. I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand it is weird to see scenery in an American movie that I know personally and first hand from my everyday life here. On the other hand, watching foreigners on film living in the place that I also livefeels like a violation of some kind. I want to protest, “Hey! This is my place!”
In this particular haunted house story the house in question was the scene of a violent murder-suicide: a Japanese father killed his wife and son and then himself. I think bizarre group, or multiple killings are fairly common here - the frequency of them and the bizarreness of them - contrary to the social myth that Japan is, by and large, a safe place. You read about such things in the newspaper nearly every day: young mother kills child and then self; father kills wife and then the children as an afterthought, later telling police that he “took pity on the children because they didn’t have a mother any more;” elderly mother kills mentally handicapped adult son, saying “I took pity on him out of worry what would become of him after my death.” And so on. In addition, because of a dearth of handguns in this country, murders and murder suicides often involve household poisons, kitchen knives, or old-fashioned drownings and beatings. Sometimes even medieval kinds of abuse, like death by starvation as a result of prolonged, forced confinement. Japanese are extremely violent when they go berserk. They love a good ghost story, and they do it well. Their science fiction, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired, I think.