Sunday, 19 May 2013

No.99 : The Grudge

The Grudge at the IMDb

This was the first in a spate of American remakes of Japanese horror films and having watched the result I won’t be seeking out any of its contemporaries or indeed sequels. It’s not because I was scared or anything; I just thought the whole thing was a bit pointless and forgettable.

The film opens with the always wooden Bill Pullman getting out of bed and falling off his balcony to his death. This is before the credits and you wonder if this is to be the shortest star turn this side of Steven Seagal in ‘Executive Decision’. Alas there are flashbacks so Bill will return!

We move across town to a catatonic woman who needs a full time carer. The carer makes the huge mistake of poking around in the attic and gets snatched away by an unseen force. Her ever caring employers don’t give a toss as they have Sarah Michelle Gellar on standby. Buffy and her douche boyfriend are staying in Tokyo and the vampire botherer is volunteering her assistance to the needy. Sadly she’s not much use as after five minutes she gets menaced by a big ball of smoke and we cut away.

We then meet the catatonic woman in more lively times as she and her son and her wife are viewing the same house - it’s a flashback you see. Soon they are all either staring at the ceiling or fighting with the bath as hands and faces reach out to ruin their days.

Back in the present Gellar is talking to the cops who recount earlier tales of woe from the haunted house. For some reason they haven’t boarded it up despite it taking care of more Americans than Pearl Harbour. Gellar does some handy online research and finds that several unexplained deaths have occurred at the house since the tragic death of a young boy - could this be the same one who keeps popping up as people start to scream?

The curse of the house gets mobile and starts to bother people from afar. Gellar is worried that she may be cursed, but before she can act the police chief is heading over to the demonic detached with some cans of petrol. Elsewhere Gellar’s boyfriend has been reading her research and is heading over for a look - huge mistake. Gellar runs over to save her man and solve the mystery but wait - Bill Pullman has moved in - isn’t he dead? Will the hairy wide eyed girl shriek some more and will someone please feed that cat?

This was a decent enough film but you could see it was a Hollywood makeover from  the start with all the affecting and original stuff looking out of place against the American enclave that has apparently moved to Tokyo, complete with near perfect Japanese. Gellar and Pullman get no sympathy from me whatsoever what with her big jumper and him dropping splinters in every scene.

The curse angle was overplayed with literally every house occupant getting a dose - don’t these cops keep records? The first time the familiar long haired girl appeared it was quite chilling but half a dozen times later you’re like ‘come on love, get a new act’. The creepy small boy was overused too but I liked him appearing in the background even when the characters didn’t spot him.

The deaths were mostly off screen with a lost lower jaw the worst of the gore. People by and large just disappeared which may be a bit scary but give me a zombie invasion any day. The ending was unsatisfying as it cried ‘here comes the sequel’ and nothing much was explained apart from ‘it’s a haunted house , live with it’.

The film was probably better in its day but for now it seems a pretty blunt and unsophisticated horror flick that relied on cheap scares over any slow burning fear or menace.

THE Tag Line - You’ll Grudge the £2 Rental   56%

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