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The Grudge 2

Horror films often reflect on a society's current traumas — they make use modern concerns to fuel moments of shock. Alas, the genre (as of 2007) is split amongst three major influences: "torture porn," the likes of which are directly connected to Takashi Miike (Audition) and Abu Ghraib; remakes of classic and "classic" horror films (spearheaded by Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes company, which has put out The Hitcher and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre); and remakes of current Asian films (like The Ring and the first Grudge). Since the recent Hills Have Eyes remake combined the first two, it won't be long until someone puts all three in a blender. The Grudge and its 2006 sequel are very much of the latter category, and it's worth mentioning that the film reflects the still-strong Japanese concern about the atomic bomb. The premise of all the Grudges (and this is the sixth film in the cycle, with two Japanese iterations, and two straight to video J-horror versions) is that there is a house where bad things occurred and has been left cursed. Therefore, anyone who enters the house and experiences the leftover trauma will also die. There is no real rhyme or reason to the victims (there's no Old Testament-style justice here), other than being at the wrong place at the wrong time. This premise has weight, and it works if there is a tone of fatalism maintained. But after six films, it's essentially a series of cat scares ("What was that?" "Cat?!?" "Oh, just a cat.") followed by a creepy hand or face that eventually kills somebody. That's The Grudge 2 in its entirety. The victims here are returning cast member Sarah Michelle Gellar as Karen Davis, (in what amounts to a five minute "show up to die" cameo), and Amber Tamblyn as her sister Aubrey. Aubrey's joined by Eason (Edison Chan), who's investigating the house, while three schoolgirls (including Airelle Krebble) have visited the house, only to suffer the Grudge. In Chicago, Trish (Jennifer Beals) seems to be coming under the spell of the Grudge, while her kid (Matthew Knight) looks on in horror. It seems the filmmakers know there's not much left they can do here, so to pad out the running time (in true East-meets-West fashion) a lot of the victims are schoolgirls — one is even dressed in a cheerleader outfit, natch. On that level, the movie almost works as exploitation, but it doesn't fully commit to being grindhouse smut. Instead it's a PG-13 movie where once people go into the evil house… well, that's all she wrote. Sony presents The Grudge 2 in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include three featurettes (running 40 min. in total) on the making of the film, three deleted scenes (4 min.), and an amusing tribute to the cast and crew, whose chance to mug at the reel changes is collected herein (8 min.). The title is also available on DVD in an "extended unrated cut" with additional supplements. Bonus trailers, keep-case.
—DSH



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