Halloween is here again. In addition to spiced wafers, colder weather and an abundance of fun-size candy bars, late October can be counted on for an influx of horror movies into local theatres.
Occasionally a good one comes along, but for the most part, Halloween movies are very, very bad. They tend to be shoddy, cheaply made films, put out there to make a quick buck and then vanish directly after the holiday. Despite a decidedly B-level cast, The Grudge has some elements that give it potential.
First, Sam Raimi is on board as a producer. Any Evil Dead fan would immediately show at least a passing interest after hearing this. Secondly, the director, Takashi Shimizu, made the Japanese film of the same name that The Grudge is based on. For whatever reason, Japanese horror seems to be well-respected amongst American fans.
Unfortunately, in addition to not mustering any quality scares, this movie lacks even a coherent plot. Blood and gore fans won’t even have anything to get excited about because of the constrictive PG-13 rating.
The movie has something to do with a haunted house, but beyond that, it’s hard to decipher much. That is until the obligatory final 20 minutes of worthless nonsensical exposition. Karen Black (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is an exchange student in Japan who volunteers at an agency that helps shut-ins. Emma (Grace Zabriskie) is the elderly woman she cares for. Emma has long since gone insane, which presumably has something to do with the spooky house she lives in. This may or may not have something to do with a suicidal college professor (Bill Pullman). Things don’t really come into focus until the final reel, but when they finally do, it is thoroughly underwhelming. The ending feels very incomplete and rushed, and what happened before still doesn’t make much sense. “That’s it?” is sure to be a common reaction to this movie.
In a lot of ways, this movie is easily compared to The Ring, although The Grudge has more of a straightforward horror element to it. The Grudge is also much more successful in creating an ominous atmosphere, although neither movie is particularly scary. Perhaps Shimizu’s original Japanese Grudge was more successful.
This version is also hurt by the terrible overblown acting. Gellar is fine, although she is certainly not asked to do much. The supporting players, particularly a portly Japanese police officer, turn in laughably overblown performances. This movie falls right into the “Bad October Horror Flick” category, and after high opening week grosses, will probably descend extremely rapidly. Horror fans are used to these kinds of letdowns by now.
The good news is this: Saw comes out next week, and then Seed of Chucky the week after that. Eventually, the law of averages has to kick in. Doesn’t it?
Chuck DelRoss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.