Since the American version of the Japanese horror flick The Ring was such a colossal hit, it’s no surprise that this year Hollywood presents another American facsimile of a Japanese original, The Grudge. Unlike The Ring’s chilling yet smooth translation to American film, The Grudge’s U.S. version comes across as choppy and somewhat trite.
Takashi Shimuzi, who wrote and directed the original Jo-on: The Grudge, is also the creative force behind this remake.Although the backdrop is still modern day Japan, the main characters have been replaced by Japanese-speaking American actors.This wouldn’t be such an annoyance if the American actors could convincingly pronounce common Japanese phrases other than “Arigatou” (“Thank you.”)
As Karen, a Buffy-esque exchange student without the kick-ass powers, Sarah Michele Gellar stars as the titular horror victim chick who manages a perpetual look of befuddlement throughout the film.It’s no surprise she has mastered this look, since she’s already appeared as a horror scream queen in several other films, including Scream 2, and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
“Being on Buffy really spoiled me because it’s so rare to have a female protagonist,” says Gellar, defending her choice to do yet another horror film.”With feature films, women still have a long way to go.Women can’t open a comedy like Jim Carrey, and women can’t open an action film like Tom Cruise.In the thriller genre women really shine. Halle Berry and Charlize Theron won Oscars, and their post projects were thrillers.”
Not to disappoint, Gellar’s well-tanned and glossy visage delivers expressions of terror when coming face to face with our monster, a blue-skinned Japanese boy who has a penchant for wailing like a banshee.Apparently something so heinous happened to him and his mother that their spirits now terrorize anyone who disturbs their eternal place of residence.We see them strike back at innocent victims without much rhyme or reason (hence the title of the film).
Why are they taking vengeance on the guiltless?That is the question Karen is desperately trying to answer, all while leading us through a lot of “don’t investigate that noise” trauma.Unfortunately for American viewers who traditionally expect closure with their films, Japanese cinema thrives on ambiguous plot twists, and that question is purposely never quite answered.