Monday, October 18, 2010

Review: The Grudge (2004)

Director: Takashi Shimizu
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar and some other interchangeable faces who I don't even care to look up.

Well, I've held off on this one for long enough. The Grudge is a movie that many people who have never seen any other horror movies find terrifying and one that many other people will tell you is a disgrace to the original Japanese version. It's just a plain old disgrace in general. To everything. Is it scary at all? Not really. Are you excited yet? I think we've dragged this intro out to a suitable length, so let's just dive right into this carnival of crap.

The movie starts off scary and ominous with a black screen telling us about an inner rage and some demons and the dead and some other bullshit that I can’t even be bothered to waste time analyzing. We see a woman waking up to see her husband standing at the ledge of their incredibly beautiful, picturesque apartment, and then he jumps off. Her reaction is to get up and look down wordlessly without any trace of the panic that a normal person would feel upon witnessing this horrific suicide. I guess maybe she’s seen too many of them and they just don’t shock her anymore? I don’t know. Then we cut away to a Japanese girl named Yoko – because every Japanese person is called that in Hollywood – who is going to her job as a caretaker of an old woman with mental health problems in her deteriorating age. She looks around at the empty house as scary music plays until she looks in the closet and is promptly swallowed whole by a mysterious thing inside…see, goddammit, you opened up the Lovecraftian portal to the realm of Yogth Sothoth. What a nuisance.

Then we cut to another scene with two more characters…because I guess they really just couldn’t choose one or two main characters to focus on…who are just starting their day. Yes, these characters are the same ones you’ll see in more masterpieces like Shutter; a pretty, super perfect blonde girl and her equally unnaturally attractive boyfriend. The girl, named Karen, is played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, because I guess they couldn’t sell this movie without a perfect face and a perfect body as a vehicle for their incredibly bland character. She and her boyfriend kiss a little, exchange some pretty standard dialogue and then go outside, where they see some old people performing a Buddhist ritual. This sentimental scene will likely have a hollow and unimportant meaning later on in the film. Take notes!

So Karen gets assigned as a substitute house-keeper for the old lady from before, and after a carnival of jump scares and allegedly ominous camera shots she finds a little boy trapped in the closet with a black cat. Karen tries to set everything straight but it mostly just leads to confusion. They find out the boy’s name is Toshio through an incredibly wooden display of acting from the poor child, and then Karen goes in to check on the old woman. Before she gets her to bed, Karen sees a huge black ectoplasm of a ghost hovering in midair, staring at her with evil eyes.

Don't tell her that ghost is behind her. It's gonna be hilarious.

Where most people would scream in horror and have an extreme reaction, Karen just sits there and gapes at it. Why is everyone in this movie so calm in these incredibly shocking situations? It’s practically ridiculous.

Then we cut to some more characters looking to buy a house…oh come on! You really can’t just stick to one main cast? This is like a fucking game; connect the characters or something. Just pick one or two main characters and develop them before you switch to another couple! These characters have no distinguishing factors aside from their names and genders. That’s it. This movie is about as detailed and exciting as a piece of cardboard.

Anyway, the guy selling the house goes into the bathroom and finds it full of black murky water. When he reaches his hand in, a little child grabs his hand and screams, and he pulls it back to find a clump of wet black hair on it. A second later the gullible white douche comes in to tell him he’s buying the house – and I doubt he intended to mention the screaming child in the bathtub, since that way they would never  buy the house and get him that big fat paycheck. It’s for the mortgage, as Aaron Eckhart might say.

So after some more predictable jump scares, bland conversations and other shit I don’t care about, the wife of this family gets sucked into the closet by some unnamed force too. Then her husband comes home and finds her lying around on the bed, petrified. A little kid pops up like a jack in the box from the other side of the bed and opens his mouth to reveal teeth covered with sticky black shit that would later be used to write the script of Jennifer’s Body, but here is mostly just gross and weird. The husband is…apparently trying to act scared...not really doing well there, pal. And then I guess he gets the axe too. Boy, I’m so glad they didn’t add, you know, depth or anything to these characters! I’d hate having to actually empathize with any of them or give a crap about anything in the plot! I’m just so happy this movie goes the extra mile to suck out any and all enjoyment. Joyous!

Ugh. So then we get the police finding Sarah Michelle Gellar in a trance by the dead old woman’s bedside. These two detective guys look around and find the body of Yoko from the beginning of the film in the attic. OK, seriously, how are there this many secret things in this house? First it was the little boy locked behind the walls, now it’s a bunch of dead or catatonic bodies in the attic. What is this, the house from House of a Thousand Corpses or something? You’re telling me that nobody ever noticed any of this was going on?

Yep. I think that’s my bullshit meter going off!

We cycle through some more delusions with the one guy’s sister who the police found getting haunted as well for some reason. I especially like this one part where she sees a random shadow stumbling around in the hallway on the security camera – oh no, there are PEOPLE IN MY HALLWAY! RUN! Yeah, it’s stupid. Then she gets killed just like everyone else in this movie with a vague supernatural type thing where a woman appears underneath the bed wearing rejected Halloween Horror Nights makeup before the screen cuts to black. This movie keeps doing the same shit over and over again. It’s getting old and stupid – well, stupider – with every single time.

AHAHAHA...oh wait, this is supposed to be scary. Yeah, right.

Then we see Sarah Michelle Gellar researching the murders and finding out that a guy played by Bill Pullman committed suicide after them. She talks to that detective guy from earlier who tells her that in Japan, if people die with rage inside them, it harbors itself on Earth after the death and haunts anyone in the vicinity. So…shouldn’t there logically be lots more cases exactly like this one for people to compare? Shouldn’t there be some general knowledge about this supernatural serial murder epidemic to where people can try and stop it? Are you seriously telling me that not many people die with rage in them? That this is an isolated incident throughout the world, for one woman and child to die without resolving their problems in life? Yeah, right. And I’m the son of a Mexican drug cartel with syphilis and three eyes.

And I don’t even understand what this is supposed to be getting across, either. So…the husband killed his wife and son, so that’s why they’re back, right? But then it’s revealed that the wife had a crush on Bill Pullman? And maybe that’s why she’s still on Earth? What is this movie trying to get across? What is the purpose? They just keep throwing in so many pointless characters and plotlines that it’s like trying to untie a knot. So…yeah. Sarah Michelle Gellar just watches while her boyfriend is horribly killed by the ghost, not even trying to do anything.

Our hero, folks. Our hero.

So in a truly weird, pointless and ridiculous ending we see Gellar in a hospital afterwards with the ghost still haunting her…woohoo? Well, I’m glad this movie’s over. I just don’t really have much to say about this one. It’s kind of a brain fart of a movie; it’s stupid and ridiculous as hell, but it really doesn’t leave much of an impact. It’s a blank space in the creative minds of everyone who worked on it and it will be the same in everyone who watches it too. I’ve already mostly forgotten about this movie at the time of writing this paragraph two days later. In fact, what am I doing? Reviewing…something? Reviewing butterflies?

Yes. That must have been it.