Following the huge box-office success of THE RING, an American remake of the Japanese hit JU-ON was inevitable as producers scrambled to cash-in on the hot new trend in Asian Horror. Thankfully, Sam Raimi had enough sense to bring back series creator Takashi Shimizu to direct, resulting in a film that is just as frightening as the original. Karen is assigned to a new caregiving position in a house that bears a terrible curse, which unleashes a pair of restless spirits upon anyone who enters. THE GRUDGE is nearly identical to JU-ON in nearly every, so why remake it at all? The answer is simple: most Americans are lazy and uncaring when it comes to foreign films, and this was the only way to expose this terrifying curse to a larger world audience. Faulting it on this, alone, would be an unfair assessment entirely, escpecially when it gets so much right. Shimizu brings back the same sense of dread and horrifying images from before, and manages to to create old-fashioned scares built on heart-pounding suspense. He overcomes the PG-13 rating without resorting to blood or gore, using the subtly subdued score and unnerving appearances of his pale-faced ghosts to drive home the terror. The American casting works fine, and launched Sarah Michelle Gellar from a television actress into movie stardom. But really, the strength of the film lies in the performance by returning actress Takako Fuji as the malevolent spirit Kayako. Her twisted movements and gut-wrenching stares chill to the bone. Young Yuya Ozeki is equally frightening as Kayako's son, Toshio. Of the many films brought over from Japan, THE GRUDGE rightfully remains as one of the best-made and most-terrifying remakes!
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THE RING, SHUTTER, PULSE, THE EYE, AUDITION.
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