Directed by: Takashi Shimizu
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jason Behr
Reviewed by: Brendan Graham (Phantomhour)
Remakes have a lot to live up to. They need to capture the feel of the original, but instead revitalize it for the audience they are intended for. Not very often do we see a remake done by the director of the original, and that’s what we got in this 2004 remake of Ju-On: The Grudge. Did Takashi dumb it down too much for an American audience?
I loved Ju-On. The original Japanese film is probably on my list of scariest movies I have ever seen. It wasn’t jump scares, they were real scares, and I clutched the edge of my seat throughout the whole experience. I was looking for a similar sensation in the remake, and surprisingly enough I found it, but not as intense.
In case you’re not familiar with the story, Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Karen, an American nurse living in Japan who is working as a case worker for neighboring families. It’s because of this job that she is cursed from a house haunted by a vengeful spirit. Once she has you in her sights, it’s impossible to get away.
The scares are all there, but they are almost exactly the same. Yet, they still work, because the atmosphere feels different. However, I feel they are more startle scares rather than real scares this time around, it could be because I knew about each one from the original, or it just lacks the punch that the original gave. Ju-On felt hopeless and bleak, and this one feels like a haunted house walk-through, lots of fun, but not as thrilling. In order to present this story to American audiences, he cut out a lot of exposition and back story, and loses the charm.
It’s still a worthy addition to your Halloween line up, if you can’t find the original that is. If you don’t like reading subtitles, the remake serves a purpose, but you’re missing out on a real scary experience with the original.
7.5 vengeful spirits out of 10.