Wednesday, June 8, 2005

THE GRUDGE - UNRATED DIRECTOR'S CUT

You know, it used to be that Sam Raimi's name on a horror movie meant that there was a potentially gruesome, but definitely entertaining roller coaster ride on the way. But, when I sat down to watch the Raimi-produced THE GRUDGE – UNRATED DIRECTOR'S CUT (2005), all I felt was mildly bored.

THE GRUDGE is a remake of the Japanese film JU-ON, and I have to give producer Raimi some credit. He did bring in the original director, Takashi Shimizu, to helm the Americanized remake, and he allowed the filmmaker to keep the original Japanese setting, albeit with a new, nearly all-Western cast. The result is a remake that I assume is truer to its source (I haven't seen JU-ON), but I'm disappointed to say that I just didn't find it scary.

Sarah Michelle Gellar (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, SCOOBY DOO) is an American exchange student living in Japan with her boyfriend. Between classes, she volunteers with an agency that provides aid to the elderly (run by Ted Raimi, Sam's brother). One day she's sent to a new location to care for bedridden Grace Zabriskie (TWIN PEAKS), and what she sees in that house changes her life and makes her the target of a malevolent supernatural entity.

While filled with creepy imagery, I found the performances – especially Gellar's – to be so low key as to be uninteresting, and the pacing to be flat. And it didn't help that I don't particularly find Japanese kids or women with long hair to be scary. It's a very well made movie, though, with great cinematography and high production values, and while it didn't grab me, it might work for you.

Sony's "Unrated Extended Director's Cut" is a nice package, with a crystal clear anamorphic widescreen transfer. There's an audio commentary by the director, producer Taka Ichise and actress Takakao Fuji, 15 deleted scenes with optional director commentary and video diaries with Gellar and co-star KaDee Strickland. There's a behind-the-scenes featurette, storyboards and a production designer's sketchbook. The most interesting extras are two short films by the director that explore the same theme as the feature, "In a Corner" and "4444444444." Strangely, I thought both of these shorts were more effective than the feature.

If you're a fan of the theatrical cut of the movie, you'll probably enjoy this version, too. It's not a bad movie, by any means – it just didn't scare me. The disc is great though, and if you've been thinking about picking it up, I'd suggest doing so.

BUY: The Grudge (Unrated Director's Cut)