The Grudge

The Grudge (2004). 98 minutes, Columbia/Sony Pictures. Directed by Takashi Shimizu

This is one goddamn creepy ass movie.

So, tonight we decided to watch something we’d never seen before in our newly-completed theater room (I’m working on a full-on entry about that, coming soon). We had bought four DVDs for Halloween that we hadn’t watched yet. I voted for The Frighteners, but Frank chose The Grudge, since a friend of his (hi, Allison!) had told us to watch it. “It’s really good and scary”, she told us. She wasn’t lying.

We popped the film in, dimmed the lights, closed the door, and secluded ourselves away in our completely dark, windowless theater room. A few nights back, we watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as the first feature in the new room, but watching this newer movie was quite a different experience. The Grudge is a well-done creep fest. I mean, I seriously had chills running up and down my arms, and got goosebumps at least three times. I yelled out loud at the screen on cue, and almost spilled my soda twice. Lying in bed typing this, I’m still vaguely creeped out by it. That face… the hair… ick.

The film stars Sarah Michelle Gellar (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) as Karen, an American exchange student living in Tokyo. Karen works part-time for a nursing home care facility, and is sent out to substitute for a co-worker who didn’t show up for work that day. Little does she know, but the house she goes to is haunted. And not just plain old “haunted house” haunted, but haunted by a spirit that follows it victims around, and never gives up until they’re dead – usually in a particularly gruesome way.

That’s about all the plot there is, honestly. The film doesn’t have a lot of twists or turns; this is no M. Night Shyamalan script by any means. What The Grudge does have is hands-down excellent cinematography combined with a perfect soundscape. The fleeting (and not so fleeting) images of the various ghosts are just about the scariest things I’ve seen in a long time. And that creepy little Japanese boy with the cat… *shudder*

The version I watched is the 98-minute Director’s Cut. Since I’ve never seen the film before, I can’t comment on what is different from the original theatrical version. The DVD transfer is gorgeous, a perfect picture. The soundtrack, played through my Yamaha receiver over my Focal Cub speakers, is rich and detailed without being overly loud. A first-rate disc that looks like it was probably mastered in HD and then downconverted.

If you haven’t seen this before, don’t watch it alone. Seriously, this one will scare the shit out of you. Hats off to everyone involved. If you’d like to give up an evening to be frightened out of your wits, pick this one up and give it a spin. And don’t expect to fall asleep right afterwards, believe me.

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