The Grudge 2
Rather than re-creating something new, the grim Grudge 2 goes to the excess--scare tactics for scare tactics' sake, with little of the original's dark and terrible mystery.
Gee, that long-haired, multi-jointed dead Asian woman with a rather significant chip on her shoulder and her freaky, white-faced meowing son sure do get around. Although hapless American student Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) tried to burn down the house to stop the ghost lady's uncontrollable rage in the first Grudge, it has apparently only gotten stronger in the second. Now, just by mere association, one can pick up the two very uninvited guests. Karen's sister Aubrey (Amber Tamblyn), for example, comes to Tokyo to see why her sis is in the hospital--only to see Karen fall from the roof in one big splatand immediately gets caught up in the whole deal. Then there are some mean prep-school girls who take another girl to the house to play a prank, and then they all get cursed. But one girl brings the curse back with her to the U.S., where it then infiltrates an entire apartment building. I mean, for all I know, I could be cursed for just watching this nonsense. Wait, what's that under my desk?
No one really gets a chance to do much in Grudge 2. In fact, the auditions probably went something like this: "Can you look wide-eyed, haggard, scared out of your mind, with possibly a few tears streaming down? Perfect!" Gellar's time is short onscreen, leaving most of the heavy lifting to Tamblyn (TV's Joan of Arcadia), who handles it as best she can. The actress isn't a stranger to Japanese horror remakes, either: If you remember, she was the first victim to meet Samara, the well girl in The Ring. Then there's the crop of young stars in Grudge 2, including Arielle Kebbel (John Tucker Must Die) as the poor American teenager who inadvertently brings evil mom and son back with her to the U.S. Even Jennifer Beals (Showtime's The L Word) makes an appearance, as one of the people living in the building affected by the curse. But she walks around looking like she has no idea why she made this movie.
To be fair, Grudge 2 isn't a complete waste of time. Helmed once again by director Takashi Shimizu, and based on the popular Japanese Ju-On series, Grudge 2 does have plenty of creepy moments. Let's just say you might think twice about looking in a closet, drinking milk from the container, or picking hair out of the drain. Yuck. But Grudge 2 unfortunately suffers the same fate as The Ring Two: The element of surprise is gone, and the filmmakers haven't invented anything more compelling to replace it. What's left then is just the curse itself--and all the guttural sounds, black-rimmed eyes and popping up out of nowhere gets old pretty darn quick, especially when there is hardly anyone left to root for. Still, it looks like they might be setting up for a Grudge 3--that is, if the box office numbers hold this time around.
Hollywood.com rated this film 1 1/2 stars.