The Grudge (2004)

Do all Japanese boys sound like cats?

An American nurse (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is living and working in Tokyo and somehow gets exposed to a mystery virus. What makes the virus so mysterious is that it’s one that locks a person in a powerful rage before claiming their life and spreading to another victim, but with a black, shadow-y figure there to see you before you die. Basically, it’s just weird.

Everybody knows the story of the Grudge by now: American girl tries to help out old lady, old lady sees something, mystical figure pops-up with a Howe-weird, cat noise, and all hell breaks loose. That’s the age old story that every teenage girl, and dude who was trying to take them out for a good scare so they could cuddle-up with them when they got frightened, saw.

But here’s the aspect of the story that they don’t know: It actually kind of sucks.

With that being said, the movie can be a tad scary, if only because of where it’s set. The fact that the creators of this remake decided to keep the story in its original native land and only change up certain aspects of the story so that they could throw in Americans people would be easier to connect with and whatnot, was actually a smart idea because it gives you an unsettling feeling. Nothing against Japan or its inhabitants, but there is just something eerie and strange about a bunch of Japanese people staring at you from a far, far distance and giving you that feeling that they either don’t like you, are silently judging you, or want to eat you and your family for din-din. Not saying this thought comes to mind every time a Japanese person stares at me, but in this, it kind of is.

Feast your eyes on what life after Buffy looks like.
Feast your eyes on what life after Buffy looks like.

However, when you get right down to it, that’s all the movie really has to offer. There are a couple of neat-o scares and chills to be had (that “after-work” scene was pretty damn tense), but everything else just feels like formula. The one film that this reminded me a lot of and probably for better, than worse, was the Ring. That movie, for all of it’s faults if you can find them, was creepy and something that made me feel a little bit tense when I would have to think about the next time turning off a static-y television-set. This movie, feels like a carbon-copy of it without any back-story worth mentioning, scares that don’t really get you at the right place and the right time, or any type of character that screams, hoots, and hollers like Naomi Watts could.

But then again, you have to beg the question, Can anybody? The answer to that is, I don’t think so. Heck, that’s why we have Naomi Watts in the first place.

Yes, little Japanese kids yelling in high-pitched, cat noises can be a little disorienting when you hear it the first two or three times, but after that, it’s just on-replay and never seems to end. Every time somebody would walk into the house, there would be movement upstairs, some sort of cracks and sizzles in the distance, a slight yelp from a ghost, the person would then pursue it, only to see a little boy, and have that little boy yell at them out of nowhere in that loud-ass voice I talked about earlier. It happens many ‘a times and maybe it could work on the types of people that are really, reelin’ in their chairs, scared to the high heavens, but on a person who doesn’t scared all that easily (yeah, I’m the shit) by material like this and knows what to expect next, then it doesn’t do anything nor does it serve any purpose. It’s boring, tedious, and goes to show you that the director may have decided to film all of this movie on his Lazy Sunday schedule, where everybody, including him, is still working with a hangover from the wild night before. Yeah, we all know those days and judging by the effort given by everybody in this cast and crew, I think they do as well.

Even though the characters aren’t here for anything else other than to just serve something resembling a story and serve the scares to come up, the performers do their best with what they’re given, even though it seems like a waste on this kind of material. Sarah Michelle Gellar is fine as the American nurse that gets all caught-up in this hubbubaloo that nobody needs to get involved with, not even Freddie Prinze Jr.’s wife, and she shows that disdain and annoyance on her face. But, she can also display the scared and shocked face well, too, and does that every chance she gets the opportunity to.

Honestly, just leave her. The "monster" isn't going to do shit anyway.
Honestly, just leave her. The “monster” isn’t going to do anything anyway.

Two very, very talented character actors pop up here as the kids of the crazy mother that sees things, William Mapother and Clea DuVall, and both are okay and definitely elevate this material to more than it aspires to be, but even I felt like taking them by the arm and being like, “Seriously? This is the type of crap you want to put on your resume to show that you have box-office appeal?”. Hey, good for them if it adds a couple of more bang to their buck, but for me, it just disappoints more than ever because I know they can do well with good material, but good material, this is not. The only hope I had for this movie was that they had the one, the mighty Bill Pullman here as some dude that randomly kills himself in the beginning and get’s a back-story later on, but it’s so goofy and so random, that it’s really just humorous. Pullman’s good and can do no wrong in my eyes, but even I felt like he was slumming this one down, big time.

Probably should have just stayed President of the United States and never even bothered stepping on Japanese soil.

Consensus: The Grudge isn’t quite the horror masterpiece it’s been made out to be by some, and instead, feels like a lazy retread of things we seen done many, many times before, and more effectively as well.

4 / 10 = Crapola!!

"Yeah, I know I'm cool."
“Yeah, I know I’m cool.”

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au


  1. This movie scared me. I used to live in a very haunted house for six years and when I went to bed that night, I heard that cat sound from the movie in my bedroom. Lol. Never again.

  2. I watched this after i saw the original ages ago, it has nothing compared to the japanese one which was pretty scary. For some reason asian horror remakes just never works for me. I think it lost a lot of its cultural authenticity which made them scary in the first place.

  3. Nice review Dan. It’s years since I saw this but my lasting memory is that it was rubbish. Really wish Sarah Michelle Gellar would get a decent movie role as I think she can be pretty great.

  4. I’ve not actually watched this. I saw the original original (as in the version that was on Japanese TV before it was remade into a cinema release. If that makes sense). Anyway, it scared the life out of me as there was no backstory and no central character. It was just a series of intensely scary events in the same house over different years. I loved it

  5. I watched this when it came out and it scared the *&)* out of me. I never watch asian horror films because the are too scary and I am a little scardy kitten

  6. When I saw this in the theaters, I thought the setting choices were awesome and it scared me. I bet the Asian original is much better. You write well, I enjoy your reviews even if I can’t be bothered to watch a lot of of horror. I caught this one because someone dragged me to it. 😉

  7. Great review man. I’ve only seen the Japanese original, and to be honest, I really wasn’t impressed with that one. Can’t imagine Buffy could do much better and this pretty much confirms it.

  8. I saw this in theaters with my wife as well as nearly every incarnation before and since (Ju-On, Ju-On 2, Grudge 2, Grudge 3, and I think one other Ju-On, but not Ju-On:White or Ju-On: Black, yes there’s that many) and this movie truly freaked her out. It probably didn’t help that this was the first Asian style horror movie that she had seen. I think the sound design in this movie is excellent in how it weaves in the throat rasp into creaking doors and various other noises. It may not hold up as well now that there’s bee so much other good horror, but at the time it was a pretty good American adaptation of Asian horror, especially since it was the same director.

  9. Good review man, I don’t even think I need to see this to say I agree with you. I never was a fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar. . . at least not of her acting skills. . . . .

    But other than that fact, this thing just didn’t seems scary. Crazy they made sequels to this, too

  10. The first time I saw this I was so freaked out… I didn’t sleep for a week! When I saw it again a few years later, I was pretty disappointed with myself.

    Although sometimes I still think about it when I’m washing my hair and hope I don’t feel fingers on the back of my head (that’s from this movie right, it’s been forever since I’ve seen it!).

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