The Grudge (US 2004)
-Round Table Discussion
-About this Film pdf
Ju-On: The Grudge (Japan 2003)
-About this Film
I sometimes like to think of myself as a big, bad, mean-looking dude. Believe it or not I actually kind of work at it. It is where I am from and it is a part of where I live. I have always enjoyed it when people look at me and ask with a tone of surprise, "You're a pastor?" Like I said, it is how I grew up, it is who I was. While I am pleased most people now refer to me as a "Big ol' Teddy Bear," I am not ashamed of where I came from or who I used to be. I am glad I am a new person, but part of my past will forever linger on.
As big, bad and tough as I was even when I was a kid, I'll never forget my Aunt Ruth, whom I was living with at the time, taking me and my cousin Joann to see the movie The Night of the Living Dead by George Romero. I had already seen it a couple of times and I had never seen anything as scary as that movie. What made the memories even more lingering was that, on the way home, Ruth decided to drive out past the cemetery. I'll never forget her driving that Volkswagen Bug and pulling into the cemetery. 'Get out of the car, Michael and Joann!" she commanded us. Man, that tough, bad kid -me- was screaming and crying with Joann in the cemetery. Meanwhile Ruth started to pull off in that car, while at the same time laughing at us.
Until today, that was the scariest movie, and scariest moment, I think I have ever experienced -again, that was until today.
I decided to catch a midday matinee in a smaller town from surrounding Wichita. I went to see last weekend's box office champ, The Grudge. Not only was I the only person in that theater, I think I was the only person in the whole Derby Metroplex Cinema. That made the movie even worse. Within the first 5 minutes of The Grudge, if I had had a blanket I think I would have pulled it over my head, stuck my thumb in my mouth, and started to cry for Mommy. I don't think I have ever been this scared watching a movie, and will warn you outright, if you are about to give birth, or you have a heart condition, high blood pressure or anything of the sort, stay as far away from this movie as humanly possible. If, like me, you find some sort of sick entertainment in getting a little frightened, this is a must-see if ever there was one. I believe it may actually be the best haunted-house, scary movie ever made.
One of the concepts that makes the Horror genre work for me is the realization that evil exists. I frankly get tired of the Bible Thumpers who email me and contact me about the Horror movies I review. I get tired for the same reason I get tired of people thinking that the Bible is a "PG" book. Hey, some of the scariest stories I have ever heard come out of the Bible. Living with the reality of evil every day is unavoidable for many, and oftentimes hope, desire, and evil cross in no place better than a Horror movie. We have a clear understanding of death, eternity, souls and evil in Horror. The Grudge presents all of those facets, and while there is not much hope given, the eternal consequences hit home.
Starring in The Grudge is Sarah Michelle Gellar, known for her role in the television series Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. She plays the part of Kare Davis, an American exchange student living in Tokyo, who also works for a home care group. While visiting a house to cover for one of her friends, she comes across the wretched history of the house and its former occupants. This movie filmed in Japan along with a great deal of subtitles and Japanese actors is as original as any Horror piece to come along since The Blair Witch Project. It is like a marvelous jigsaw puzzle in its direction and storytelling. Not until near the end will the pieces come together to reveal what lies behind the Horror. Once that horror is revealed, we are faced also with a realization of our own weaknesses. How far are we willing to go to fulfill the needs of those we love? Why do we make the sacrifices we do for self? How do the actions of those around us affect us? When faced with the horror and reality of evil, are we willing to seek appropriate help and, if so, does faith or God have a part in that search for help?
All of these challenges come up at the climax of the movie, but up until that point there are plenty of crawl-under-the-bed scenes that keep you so terrified you are almost afraid to go to the bathroom or a concession stand. One of the brilliant components of The Grudge is the suspense created purely by the use of music. While The Grudge is horribly frightening, there is respect given in the small amount of language, sexual situations, and gore. The rating must come primarily from frightening situations, because little of these other things exist.
There are some weak points in the movie. There are a few loose ends that aren't tied up and questions that I would have liked to have seen answered. On the other hand, those "omissions" seem like common occurrences these days, to leave room for sequels and the like. Since the original version, Ju-on, has had its three sequels, that is likely to have been the intent for this film too.
For a good time, and a lesson in some Japanese culture, this is one not to miss. I am glad I saw it, and I will see it again. I haven't seen the original that the movie is based on, this one is a remake, but I'll even be out looking for that.
On a scale of 1 – 10, while it may not be the best Horror movie ever made, to me, it was the scariest, a very scary upside down six for a score of 9.