Friday, December 17, 2010

The Grudge: I Like You..But Am I Supposed To?

I can't believe after whining about how stupid I was for not checking my queue, that I did it AGAIN. This time the mistake wasn't so unfortunate but it still left me feeling rather bitter. I had failed to notice this time around that the Grudge I had stored in my queue was the American remake and not the original Japanese version. I don't have anything against remakes or at least giving them a chance, but after declaring my immense adoration for The Ring over Ringu--I had wanted to switch things up this time. I thought that maybe if I saw the original first I would become a strong supporter. This was inevitably a failed experiment as most people don't love the American remake--but what can you do?

I also must admit that I dreaded seeing The Grudge for a few reasons. To begin with, I like to consider it, along with the Ring as being the seed that planted the trend of scary Asian girls with long hair into the minds of everyone. It is because of the success of these two movies that I hate all Asian horror films that center around the supernatural because they all employ the same tactics. I figured I would hate the Grudge for doing this but I also failed to realize that if the Grudge and The Ring started a trend--they must have been doing something right.

The other reason I sort of abhorred the Grudge was because of Sarah Michelle Gellar. I just don't like her! I never have and every single movie that I see her in I can't get the stupid ugly face of her character from Cruel Intentions out of my head. I'm also a huge supporter of The Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie in case you didn't know and I resent her for marrying Freddy Prinze Jr. before my 14 year old self could.

Anyways I put my dignity aside and settled in and I must admit...I found myself pretty creeped out. I'm embarrassed even to tell you this but I stopped it after 20 minutes because no one was home and the heaters were making loud noises. Maybe it's the timing of the Grudge, or the long black hair that's extra long and...gross. Or maybe The Grudge just speaks to everyone's innate fear of scary dead Asian girls with long hair and bad asthma. Who knows. Either way, when I finally settled back in to watch it in its entirety I was both excited and nervous.

I had no idea when I began watching it, that the story's structure was so disjointed. We begin with a Japanese girl coming to take care of some old lady. She hears noises and goes to investigate and gets killed. Next we meet a family moving into the house. They are actually the people who are living there at the time the Japanese girl comes at the beginning. THEN we meet Sarah Michelle Gellar's character Karen, who takes the Japanese girl's place-and so on and so forth. It's an interesting story telling device that normally would have jarred me but in this instance I felt it a nice compliment to the idea of the stain. There's no bettering or worsening of the ghost's wrath because no matter who you are, or when you come into the house you will be met with...the grudge.

There are problems of course in The Grudge, but these seem to only be minor annoyances. Things like how the scary girl seemed to be really CGI looking, or how we never got to really see what happened to the husband and the wife.

Sarah Michelle Gellar's open fish mouth gape was also a bit annoying after awhile and she wasn't traumatized enough in my opinion. I guess I just don't understand why the ghost didn't immediately kill her like everyone else. I understand in order for the plot to stay alive she kind of needs to be alive...but in every other instance--the ghost did NOT give up so what the eff?

Aside from those shenanigans, The Grudge was as I said a pretty terrifying movie for anyone who HATES hair. Personally, I don't mind it but still, the hair oooh god the hair.

I also will fault The Grudge for making me weary of...cats. I know. I too was upset but it happened. I'm actually still confused about the little cat boy.

Did he just really like cats? Maybe I missed something there...regardless I had to stop the movie about 10 times because I thought my cat was alone and crying somewhere. Turns out it was just the cat in the movie...

The scene that a lot of people talk about when they refer to the Grudge is the stairwell scene and the under the covers scene.

I admit I had seen it before a few times but it never really affected me. However. In context, that scene is wildly creepy. I attribute this to the noise. It really is an ungodly noise that should never be uttered by another human being ever. I think the main driving force behind that scene is that it amplifies the power of the ghost to the nines. It just really is one of the creepiest scenes I have ever witnessed. Not only does she have the power to turn into people's brothers, and call people's cell phones--she also has an uncanny ability to morph out of the shadows and sneakily appear under people's bed covers. This film like The Ring, employs the very curious sensation of not being able to escape an evil no matter how hard you try. That's the thing with most horror films--in a lot of instances there is a safe place but here--we are screwed.

Ummm what else, what else? The other thing I enjoyed was how the end wasn't all twisty. It's refreshing to see an end to a horror film that is not filled with an uncontrollable need to make people's heads hurt. There's no--well GUESS WHAT? The cat? Yeah, the cat was actually the bad guy! Or shit like that. Things were straightforward and you know what? It made sense. The logical flow of events made sense for once and I felt like kissing something.

Overall I was quite pleased with the entirety of The Grudge. I'm sad that a lot of people don't like it, and as someone who has not seen the original, I am pretty confident in saying that it gets a lot of unfair flack. I found it to be effective, creepy and only a little bit annoying so ha. I'm sure the original is much more successful in building up the creepy atmosphere and all that jazz--but for a remake I think the Grudge does a fine job. I mean honestly--how many movies have I seen this year that made me nervous about finishing? Not many. And my heater makes noise all the time, so think about that, buddy.


Christine Hadden said...

Ahh! I gasped when I saw this post - I just watched this (again) last week and actually have a post half-written about how much The Grudge truly freaks me out and how I'm not afraid to admit it anymore.
It scares me every time I see it and I've decided I don't care if people berate me for it.
Then you come along with this post and made me feel so much better.

So, thanks for that - but damn you for posting yours first. Now I'm just going to look like a copy cat.

Emily said...

It's been awhile since I've seen The Grudge, but I think the deal with the cat and the cat boy was that they were both drowned by the awful father, along with the mother, and so maybe because of that he somehow has acquired some cat characteristics (maybe due to his love for his pet)? Or maybe they both haunt the house and are a part of the curse, and somehow that has fused together a bit? Or maybe during the creation of the curse their spirits have joined because they were both innocents?

I admit, this movie creeped me out too. I remember not wanting to leave my room after I watched it, as I was the only one home at the time, and it was late at night.

Andre Dumas said...

Aww Chris you won't look like a copy cat of course! That's so wild, I had no idea!! I didn't even know you watched it recently. Heck, I didn't know that I was going to watch it so none of us area at fault..! I'm happy a lot of people are coming out of the grudge closet though. Now to see the original!

Emily--You are always explaining things to me, why are you so smart?! The cat drowned?!! They showed such a quick snippet of it I couldn't see what was happening, but I guess that makes sense. I can't believe he drowned the I can't even finish my oatmeal because I'm so upset. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

I haven't watched The Grudge since I first saw it in the theater when it was released. I enjoyed it at the time but I don't know if I could bring myself to rewatch after all the years of crap J-horror/J-horror remakes that have come since. I will say, however that you must watch Ju-On, the Japanese original soon! It's so much creepier than the remake!

Greg said...

I think this is a very well made movie. I don't understand the hate it gets, it was definitely one of the better American remakes. The atmosphere was done very well and there were a lot of creepy moments. I have to admit the scene with the bed sheet pissed me off! The bed sheet is suppose to be a safe haven and that damn ghost appeared underneath the covers! Ha.

I need to own this on DVD.

CashBailey said...

I really didn't like the original JU-ON. I saw it right on the heels of aRING, so I was still buzzing from that amazing movie.

For me JU-ON is just a poor facsimilie if far better films from that scene.

For one thing I think the mythology is not that interesting. In RING Sadako's backstory is fascinating and executed with such amazing atmosphere and mystery.

Whereas in JU-ON every ten minutes you get that chick crawling along the floor and burping at the caemra. And that little naked boy turns up randomly so many times I began to wonder if Victor Salva had directed the film (cheap shots, FTW!!!).

As for the remake (yes, I DID notice it was the subject of this article), they managed to make a movie just as incoherent and dull as the original so I guess it's a successful translation. Although I'm not sure I really want to see any of the 27 other sequels, remakes and re-boots Shimizu has made.

Andre Dumas said...

Thanks Murphy Screams, that was my original intention actually to get the original but I mixed it up in the queue apparently...but yes I look forward to seeing it someday..!

Greg- you are so right about that. It all goes back to one of my points about the opening of Scream--where the parents are RIGHT there but she still dies anyway. There's a certain boundary of safeness that gets crossed, and once things like under your bed covers get compromised...things get very serious indeed.

Oh Cash, always disagreeing! :p
Hmm I guess the mythology in comparison to The Ring is quite boring--or as I said it seemed more realistic. Although I was kind of interested in why that woman was so crazily obsessed with the professor.
I don't know though I didn't see it as dull because I actually came away being genuinely scared in a similar way that I was when I saw the Ring for the first time. Maybe you're putting too much importance on comparing it to The Ring. If we compare every single movie we saw to a better movie, no one would like anything. I prefer to take it as just face value and observe it as a single entity....!

But we can still be friends.

Firescar said...

After reading around, I believe the boy is meowing because the father(whom killed is wife, son, and cat) killed the boy and cat together, therefore in a way their souls were combined. I'm not exactly sure though. I don't exactly remember.

March Hare said...

I would thoroughly recommend the original Ju-On:The Curse, it's the first in the series, made in 2000 for tv but it gets confused with Ju-On: The Grudge, made in 2003 and released in the theatre, the American The Grudge is largely a remake of this.

Though made for tv Ju-On The Curse is ten times scarier than the American Grudge, although admittedly as confusing. I don't think it ever got a Western dvd release so you might have to look it up on youtube, which is what I did, though it might have been released with Ju-On The Grudge.