Acclaimed producers Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Taka Ichise have re-teamed with director Takashi Shimizu and screenwriter Stephen Susco to present this heart-stopping sequel to the smash-hit thriller, The Grudge
. When Aubrey Davis learns her sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Geller) has been hospitalized, she immediately flies to Tokyo. Once there, she learns her sister's horrifying story and discovers that the fatal supernatural curse has been unleashed. Now, as the grudge spreads across the world, a new host of unsuspecting victims are about to become infected by the force that can't be stopped -- and won't be killed.
The Grudge 2 is a spooky installment in Takashi Shimizu's hardworking Ju-on/Grudge series of horror pictures. It doesn't carry the disorienting thrill of the very first Japanese Ju-on features, but it's a lot creepier than anybody could have expected. The story picks up from the end of the first Hollywood version of The Grudge, and has nothing to do with Ju-on 2, Shimizu's Japanese sequel. Sarah Michelle Gellar returns (a distinctly supporting role) as an American woman traumatized by her experiences with a haunted house in Tokyo; younger sister Amber Tamblyn flies over to help out. This particular storyline doesn't have much meat on it; the murder house is still there, and people who go inside have a disconcerting habit of dropping dead. Fortunately, two other plots thread into the basic one: a group of American schoolgirls in Tokyo become intrigued by the legend of the house, and some Chicago apartment dwellers are unsettled by domestic anxiety and the weird sounds coming from next door. (This storyline, featuring Jennifer Beals, gives the film its extremely satisfying opening sequence.) As usual with these movies, sequences come to us in non-chronological order, and it's up to us to piece it together. You can guess where the film is going, but the slow trajectory toward its final sequences is surprisingly involving. The movie was widely panned upon its release, which says more about the presumption of the law of diminishing sequel returns than the film itself--it's a decent little horror flick. --Robert Horton
Stills from The Grudge 2 (click for larger image)
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