The Grudge * Takashi Shimizu * 2004

Just like “Ringu” was made into the American version “The Ring”, “Ju-On” was anounced to get an American version as well. “The Grudge” started playing in the USA just when I was in Seattle and a few months later it is already here. My interest was caught when I found out that this time the project was at least still in the hands of the original director and I wondered how much Shimizu himself would Americanise (or to put it even more American: Americanize) his own creation.

So yesterday we went to one of the three local cinemas where “The Grudge” is shown. “Scarier than the Ring” the poster says. The same can be said about the original versions. Unfortunately we took a cinema which has the film in a small room with no surround sound which would definately have added to the effect.
It was a big relieve to find out that Shimizu left his film(s) in a rather Japanese style. The setting is even still in Japan, but now there are Americans who went to live their for work who get to fall under the curse. There is quite much Japanese language at the atmosphere is mostly left in tact. There are some Americanisations to be detected. There is more use of music, some scenes are slightly altered, some fright-moments have been added and an awfull horrorish special effect with no use is dragged in. In general the film remains fairly close to the originals though. I say originals, because the film has elements and stories of both part 1 and 2 (of “Ju-On: the grudge”, I haven’t seen either of the TV versions “Ju-On: the curse”). The sound is still an element that adds to the creapy atmosphere, which is extremely dense and pressing. There is a still a big part of mystique however no so much is left to the imagination anymore. The light and dark elements are still much in use and ‘the monster’ didn’t become too much of a monster (fiew). Those of you who have seen the Japansese versions will recognise bits of both Japanese parts and find out that other parts of the story have been cunningly altered in order to fit in the new version.

Karen is an American student who is in Japan for probation and it is her who works at the welfare instution. Her boyfriend is also in Japan for study, but he is added to the story. Also added in an American professor who appears to be the cause of the curse. Also some answers are given that are not clear in the Japanese film, while other things are left vague. Some scenes seem a bit out of place now too, since they were too easily taken from the original scripts (the haunted sister, the hung man banging against the wall).

Overall I must say that I am definately not dissatisfied with this American version. The atmosphere is still extremely pressing (some scenes leave the extreme atmosphere for an almost unbearable span of time) and the Japanese-horror-feeling is left mostly in tact. I wonder if the ‘normal horror audience’ will find this a scary film too, but to speak for myself, seeing a film like this on the big screen, is an extra addition to the effect. Shimizu has brung me gooseflesh again, but since I mostly knew what was coming, not as much as the first time I saw the first Japanese part. All in all I can highly recommand this film to anyone who wan’t to see a really good horror without the splatter and humour and also to anyone who has seen and liked the Japanese films.

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