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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
The Grudge 2 (2006)

"Aubrey, you've got to get me out of here. I am the only one that can stop her."
- Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Gellar)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: February 06, 2007

Stars: Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel
Other Stars: Jennifer Beals, Edison Chen, Sarah Roemer, Sarah Michelle Gellar
Director: Takashi Shimizu

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (mature thematic material, disturbing images/terror/violence, and some sensuality)
Run Time: 01h:42m:08s
Release Date: February 06, 2007
UPC: 043396174924
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ CB-A B

DVD Review

Even with the Asian horror craze dying down, there is one franchise that continues to surge on. The man behind both the original Japanese films and the American remakes is Takashi Shimizu. One would think that the brainchild behind the inventive Japanese entries would know when enough is enough, but, alas, 2006 saw the curtain rise on The Grudge 2. Easily the worst entry yet, this muddled, pointless exercise joins Pulse and The Ring 2 as reasons enough to give the Hollywoodization of J-horror a rest.

This time around, we begin by looking in on a family sitting down for breakfast. Everything seems fine until the husband complains about his bacon, causing the wife, Trish (Jennifer Beals), to smack him in the head with a frying pan. We immediately cut to Allison (Arielle Kebbel), an American student in a Japanese private school who is still trying to fit in. She visits the dreaded haunted house as an initiation into a clique led by Miyuki (Misako Uno) and American Vanessa (Teresa Palmer). Then, the story shifts to the only returning character, Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar), who is visited in the hospital by her sister, Aubrey (Amber Tamblyn). After telling Aubrey of the curse, things go terribly wrong for Karen, and we're back to following the family we met in the first reel. This rollercoaster storytelling style continues until everything more or less comes full-circle for a rather disappointing, easily telegraphed finale.

A jumbled narrative structure is nothing new for Shimizu fans, but this latest scare-fest is far too disjointed for its own good. By now, we all know the origins of the curse, and, for the most part, we're mercifully spared further exposition regarding it. However, the initial visit to the house by Allison and her prospective friends drags on way too long, and is complete with a retelling of the initial murders that took place there. Sure, there are those who don't know the story going in, but working it in via flashbacks might have sped things up and gotten things off to a better start. Keeping us interested in a fourth (theatrical) go-round with these ghosts is asking enough as it is but making us wait so long for the scares is borderline torture.

Another unfortunate issue is the choice to render up-and-coming young actress Arielle Kebbel (John Tucker Must Die) virtually unrecognizable. The good news is that she delivers another excellent performance in a film that doesn't necessarily call for such stellar work. She looks genuinely frightened during her scenes (especially the one in the counselor's office), which is more than I can say for her fellow cast members. The overriding bad news is that none of the spooky atmosphere or genuine scary moments are present this time around. Shimizu is banking solely on cheap jump scares that we can see coming a mile away. Chalk this up to dumbing things down for mass American audiences if you must, but it's more like a case of the idea well running dry.

"Remakes are a tired exercise" is the understatement of the year, but this is the rarest of cases where a remake would have been welcome. Ju-On: The Grudge 2 was a stellar Japanese sequel, taking an entirely original story and maintaining the same high scare quotient. With the recent announcement of Ju-On: The Grudge 3 for 2008, only time will tell whether Takashi Shimizu can keep this series afloat with a stellar Japanese installment. If he does, here's hoping he ends things on a high note and stays away from another American sequel.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The transfer is pretty much what we'd expect from such a recent film, but there are some problems. The images aren't as sharp and detailed as they could be. The colors are well-rendered, with blacks standing out above all else.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is excellent, crafting the perfect scary mood via some aggressive bass and active surrounds. The rears do an excellent job accommodating the realistic ambient sounds that are key to scary movies, while directional effects are used throughout. The dialogue is always easy to hear and is never overshadowed by the music or sound effects.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
9 Other Trailer(s) featuring Ghost Rider, Crossover, Casino Royale, Spider-Man 3, Premonition, The Grudge, Gridiron Gang, The Covenant, The Exorcism of Emily Rose
3 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Cast & Crew Reel Change Montage
Extras Review: A generous extras collection begins with East Meets West, a 15-minute making-of piece that is very comprehensive. There is a series of cast and crew interviews in this piece, with the discussion centering on working with Takashi Shimizu, and how involved his translator is in the actual shooting of his films.

The Grudge 2: Storyline Development is a case of the title saying it all. Aside from the obvious, this 11-minute segment begins with talk of how the decision to make a sequel was made early on, and continues throughout the script-writing process.

Next, is Ready When You Are, Mr. Shimizu another making-of featurette, this time running 13 minutes. There's more talk of how important Shimizu is to this franchise and how he came about the unique look of the films. A "Cast & Crew Reel Change Montage" is eight minutes of the cast and crew of the film separately announcing a camera reel change, and three deleted scenes are also on board. Rounding out the extras is a collection of previews for other Sony releases.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Another sign that the end is near for J-horror remakes, The Grudge 2 is a failed experiment in style over scares. Even original director Takashi Shimizu can't save this latest picture from itself, as it'll leave audiences scratching their heads instead of sitting on the edges of their seats. Sony's DVD features excellent audio and video presentations and a healthy extras collection, but they also offer an "unrated version" that includes over five minutes of extra footage and even more supplemental material.

 


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