Directed by: Takashi Shimizu
Written by: Takashi Shimizu (original Ju-on: The Grudge film) and Stephen Susco (screenplay)
Starring: Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel, Jennifer Beals and Sarah Michelle Gellar
Reviewed by: Josh G.
After witnessing the dread that was The Grudge, I peered over to my bedside, where The Grudge 2 was watching me...waiting for me, almost urging to be played in my DVD drive. I was hesitant. After all, with that horribly funny remake before it, the chances of the sequel being better didn’t look promising. Still, I had bought it used (though in near mint condition) for seven dollars, and to not try it out would be a waste of my money. So, with some self encouragement, I began my second journey into this Takashi Shimizu production. What did I find, aside from bad acting?
In Tokyo, Japan, high school friends Miyuki (Misako Uno) and Vanessa (Teresa Palmer) trick new girl Allison (Arielle Kebbel) into exploring a supposed haunted house, the same one that almost burned down from the first film. According to legend, anyone who goes in the house is cursed forever. When the girls experience some frightful events, they run out of the house, and their lives are soon haunted by the evil within. Meanwhile, in Pasadena, California, Aubrey Davis (Amber Tamblyn) learns that her sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is in the hospital in Tokyo, suspected of arson. When Aubrey flies over to see her, Karen is in a crazed state, and soon after, Karen falls to her death off of the roof of the hospital. But was it really suicide? And finally, in Chicago, Illinois, a boy named Jake (Matthew Knight) sees a strange woman hidden by her hood entering his neighbors’ apartment. Has she brought a curse along with her? He thought that his father’s new girlfriend, Trish (Jennifer Beals) was the only obstacle in his life, but as he and his family will soon find out, some things are little in comparison to what is really out there.
The first story, following the three girls, starts off a little cliché with the stuck up Miyuki and Vanessa talking to each other with poorly written dialogue and dreadful acting abilities. Luckily Miyuki remains likable, and with their individual characteristics distinguishing them from one another, you aren’t bored whenever they appear on screen. Although they are just here to boost a body count, the events that they encounter couldn’t be more thrilling...than the rest of the movie, that is. The Grudge 2 is filled with boring times and dopey fun parts, but all of it is still pretty bad. The long-haired Japanese woman who exacts her evildoing on everybody returns to haunt Vanessa with wispy dark hair in the shower and Miyuki when she hides under the bed sheets. Vanessa is killed in a phone booth, with no one who passes by paying attention, by a hideously designed scene of CGI hair suffocating her. Allison sees a little Japanese boy under her desk at school, and ludicrous-looking dead girls with wide white eyes staring at her in an office. These all return to the one thing The Grudge taught us, which is that these films are filled with comical dark situations, oblivious to the fact that they aren’t creeping anyone out. Hell, Vanessa even pees her pants, except for one difference; she in only wearing a towel. Yes, that’s a proud moment for Teresa Palmer’s resume there!
The surviving storyline from The Grudge, involving the Davis’, has one excellent and effective scene, where Aubrey witnesses firsthand her sister Karen falling to her death and landing just beside her, splattering blood on Aubrey’s shoes. Everything else here is bland. Aubrey meets up with Eason (Edison Chen), the journalist who saved Karen from the fire she started in the haunted house, at the end of The Grudge. He has been following the weird events in the house for a long time now, and he tells Aubrey about what he knows. She wants to help him, in order to avenge her sister. Soon, we see that the evil is spreading beyond the house! Oh no! The couple are then on a search to find the mother of the evil Kayako Saeki (Takako Fuji), who fed her evil spirits before she died. The plot just gets dumber, and we are taken back to the past of how the curse started to begin with. Aubrey, just like her sister Karen from The Grudge, is shown the past of the house when she enters it. We learn the same thing that we knew at the end of the previous film, except now we know why Kayako’s spirit has a weird croaking sound escaping her whenever she opens her mouth. By the end of Aubrey’s storyline, nothing is really resolved, aside from a few deaths. The audience learns nothing else, and we have only benefited from nice shots of Japan.
The final storyline in the apartment feels more like a distraction, but it is at least the darkest of the three. The other two stories used the same old scare tactics, but this one has more suspense and eeriness. Jake’s sister Lacey (Sarah Roemer) goes over to her friend Sally’s (Jenna Dewan), but how come Sally is affected by the curse? We assume she’s affected by the curse, because most teenagers don't drink milk, spit it up, drink it, spit it up, and repeat again. A shuddery but pointless scene. In the beginning, we saw Trish pour hot bacon grease over Jake’s father’s head, and whack him dead with the frying pan. Now we know why. She has been cursed by the evil that the mysterious hooded woman has brought with her. Imagery can’t make up for inept concepts. The Grudge 2 is funner than The Grudge, but it’s much worse. Too many creative ideas, just like before, are crammed into something that is poorly produced, acted, directed and written, and by the final reel, we don’t care about the story any longer. We just laugh with the foolishness thrown in front of our eyes. God, how I’m fearing the outcome of The Grudge 3.
We have gained nothing new in the story with The Grudge 2. You can sort of guess the identity of the strange hooded woman in the apartment segment, and poor Amber Tamblyn’s section offers her no room to further her performance talent. In fact, continuing the Davis storyline was not needed; it only kept the continuity, by not continuing with an irrelevant new set of people experiencing the terror of the haunted Tokyo house. In my favorite part, with the three schoolgirls, Vanessa is hiding under the school counsellor’s desk while the Japanese boy actually dances on top of it. She crawls out from underneath to answer her vibrating phone to hear the screech of the odd kid; his meow. A bowl of what-the-fuck and laughs may be the only way to enjoy this pathetic sequel. Not even the grim dark ending could salvage this film. Columbia Pictures’ unrated director’s cut DVD is too good for the film, with perfect video and audio, deleted scenes, behind the scenes featurettes, a Sam Raimi introduction, extra footage, and little more unnecessary mentions. Do with this movie what Vanessa should have done to her soiled towel. Trash it!
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