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Haunted Movie Review:
The Grudge (2004)

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Takashi Shimizu


Stephen Susco (screenplay)
Takashi Shimizu (film “Ju-On: The Grudge”)


Sarah Michelle Gellar … Karen
Jason Behr … Doug
William Mapother … Matthew
Clea DuVall … Jennifer
KaDee Strickland … Susan
Grace Zabriskie … Emma
Bill Pullman … Peter
Rosa Blasi … Maria
Ted Raimi … Alex


Karen Davis is an American nurse residing in Japan with her boyfriend, who is studying there. Temporarily assigned to be a caretaker for a woman with severe sleeping disorder, Karen goes to the patient’s house. What she finds there is something she would never have expected. The house is plagued by the presence of murderous ghosts, the result of a curse. The curse is created when someone dies in a powerful rage. Now, Karen finds herself tormented by that curse, and she must defeat it before it claims her as its next victim.

Thoughts from the team

The Grudge finds a good balance between building tension (by not initially showing the ghost) and then delivering on our worst expectations when it’s time to give the ghost some face time—and it should be noted that Kayako was missing her lower jaw. There is a scene were Kayako crawls down the steps with a broken neck that is just freaky too. There are many such parts.

The film does have its flaws. It is at times a confusing film as it is not stitched together chronologically. There are all sorts of flashbacks and so much intermingling of subplots that is hard to keep track of what is going on. Then, as soon as you start to think about the plot, the main ghost is likely to spring out of nowhere and scare the wits out of you. Maybe that was intended? However, I didn’t get the feeling this technique was designed to amplify the scares. It sort of came across as mishandled at times.

At heart, The Grudge is geared toward teenage girls and is a screamer film. And on that high-pitched note, this movie is a commendable effort. Yes, The Grudge is a bit confusing at times, but generally the scares are non-stop, the acting is good, the story is intriguing, the special effects are first rate and well balanced with drama. Add that all up and you get one very good haunted house film.

The Real Ghost Hunters’ Perspective

The story is different from most haunted house films as it is rooted in the myth and folklore of the Japanese spirit world. As such, the principal ghost in The Grudge has extraordinary powers compared to many more ho-hum American spirits. It can literally haunt you wherever you go.

From my American perspective, the setting of The Grudge is rather exotic as the story takes place in Japan. Though the “haunted house” is very modern and nothing more than a middle class house, it was neat to enjoy a different cultural take on the haunted house film.


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