I have always appreciated Japanese horror films, as long as i can remember. There was something special about Japanese horror, since they could build up creepy tentions that American horror films failed doing on the same professional level as Japanese horror films. Back in the late 90´s, one of my school friends would buy Japanese horror films on VHS from the UK, since it was hard to find horror films from Japan here in Sweden, at least not the titles that i was interested in. I only remember a bunch of the titles that he bought, and i am pretty sure we saw quite many films in just one weekend ( we probably only slept 4 hours, and tried to stay awake with lots of coffee ) . Some were good, while some were ok. When the DVD market started expanding in early 2000, we could see some more Japanese horror films coming our way, with better video quality and better sound. But it was in the year of 2004, i remember picking up one film on DVD, that i have been waiting for a long time to see. I read about this film in movie magazines, and even read about it in Swedish newspapers. The title of the film is Ju-on, also known as The Grudge, directed by Takashi Shimizu. I have to be honest, the first time i saw this film i thought it was really creepy. I must have seen it at least 7 times on DVD, and then we got the American remake, released in the year of 2004. Now, say what you want about the remake, but i thought it was good. Not as good as the original film, but still a solid horror film. Of course there were sequels released, both from Japan and an American sequel as well. Since you don´t hear much about Japanese horror films these days ( there are films released, but maybe not so often in Swedish cinemas ), it is Always a pleasure to see that Japan keeps making horror films. So here we are with a side-sequel ( an American sequel ) to The Grudge franchise, that i did not expect. I know they have talked about a sequel in the past, but that did not happen. Considering it has been a long time since we have seen a Grudge film, is this side-sequel better than i expected, or should they have left The Grudge to rest for eternity instead ?
In 2004, live-in Fiona Landers ( Tara Westwood ) leaves a house in Tokyo, disturbed by events she has witnessed inside. Fiona informs her co-worker that she is returning to America Before encountering the ghost of Kayako Saeki. Fiona arrives at her home at 44 Reyburn Drive in a small town in Pennsylvania, reuniting with her husband Sam Landers ( David Lawrence Brown ) and their daughter Melinda Sanders ( Zoe Fish ). Kayako´s curse, however, possesses Fiona, causing her to kill Sam and her daughter as well. Detectives Muldoon ( Andrea Riseborough ) and Goodman ( Demián Bichir ) investigate these murders, as they are about to find out the real truth behind this case.
Going into this film i was worried that they would not be able to bring back any of the tension, or the creepy atmosphere that the previous Grudge films managed to do. And i would have to say that i feel a bit dissappointed. You see, there are moments in this film where you don´t feel any of the creepy atmosphere that you did in the original Grudge film, and this is more of a traditional horror film instead with jump scares, and using the same horror ingredients we have seen so many times before. If you are going to make a Grudge film, you need to find the right balance to make it feel like a worthy sequel. And this is something that this film is missing which is too bad, Let´s get into something positive though. This film looks good, with great colors and good looking cinematography from Zachary Galler. I also enjoy the performance from English actress Andrea Riseborough ( who i guarantee you will recognice from the fantastic film Birdman, a must buy on DVD or Blu Ray ). She plays Detective Muldoon, and she is actually one of the most interesting characters in this film. Legendary actress Lin Shaye ( most known from the Insidious franchise ) also gives a good solid performance as the character Faith. I would have liked to see her more in this film, and the story might have been more interesting. The investigation that you follow in this film, could have been told in a much more mysterious way. Once you understand what is going on, you don´t really feel interested in the case, and this is of course not good. Director Nicolas Pesce ( who directed the critically acclaimed horror film The Eyes Of My Mother ) have done two great films in the past, but he seems to be missing the point with this side-sequel of The Grudge. It is not enough to make a film look good, unless you have something more to offer to the audience. The Grudge ( side-sequel ) is not the sequel we needed, and i think they should leave this franchise alone. See the original film instead, and i guarantee you will have a much more pleasent time.