Tuesday, October 2, 2012

REVIEW: The Grudge 2 (2006)

I just so love when I have to look at a Wikipedia article right after watching a damn movie just to remember what happened. Usually that doesn’t happen, because most movies aren’t so damn unmemorable that I’d have to resort to such embarrassing maneuvers. But it never seems to happen unless I’m watching a Grudge movie. And lo and behold, this week I’m reviewing another Grudge movie! I can’t remember a damn thing about the first one, and now I’m supposed to review this piece of shit. Whatever am I supposed to do when I can’t recall what happened in a movie I’m reviewing? Eh, I’ll figure it out.

Director: Takashi Shimuzu
Starring: Amber Tamblyn, Edison Chen

I just don’t even get this series, because I literally can’t recall ever meeting anyone who liked it. How do you have a franchise when you have zero fans? Who is this marketed to? It’s certainly not supposed to be entertaining. The story isn’t that good, and the characters are cardboard cutouts. The directing is a big mess and whatever atmosphere it’s trying to conjure up is squandered on the weak-ass pacing. There. That’s my review; do I have to say anything else?

…………yes, yes I do.

The movie starts off with a cheerful reminder that getting sizzling hot bacon grease poured on you…is painful. And getting hit in the head with the pan the grease came from…is even more painful.

There's a hell of a flip book for you.

Then we switch to a credit sequence filled with lots of blacks and reds, because it wouldn’t really look good in all pinks and light blues. The first actual scene is about some high school girls in Japan, except only one is actually even Asian, and of course they all speak perfect English with no trace of an accent. Are you even trying, movie? Literally the first few minutes already give the impression – the very right impression – that the makers just didn’t give a crap.

These three are normal teenage girls, which means they talk about each others’ looks and have an equal propensity for urban legends and supernatural folklore. Like most teenage girls, you know. They go to an old house which one of the girls says is haunted and everyone who goes in becomes cursed. So, what…they just walk home and do their homework now, right?

"Like, seriously, don't you guys know that creepy haunted houses are IN this year? All the preppy girls are doing it now."

No, of course they go in! The two mean girls lock the one nice one up in a closet and laugh at her. The joke is on them, though, when the door is really locked for real and the ghost comes out! But luckily the ghost has become incompetent and lazy since the first movie, and cannot even catch one of them to pull into Hell.

After that we see a mother who you know is sick because she’s filmed in really generic sick people shots with dramatic lighting and perfect hair and makeup despite being, apparently, sick as a dog. And coughing. Don’t forget lots of coughing.

She has "movie disease." In which you cough sometimes and can't move much, but otherwise look OK. Highly contagious in films that don't feel like actually trying.

Apparently this is the mother of Buffy Michelle Gellar from the first film, who is the only person with talent in either one. There’s also a sister who apparently isn’t even speaking to Gellar anymore. Now that Gellar is in the hospital and wanted for murder, the mother asks the sister, Aubrey, to go over and bring Gellar back from Japan.

Being an absolutely brilliant and cultured person, Aubrey just talks in English only to the nurses at the desk and doesn’t even try to use their language or help them understand. Luckily for her, a creepy journalist is waiting nearby and acts as a translator. Aubrey gets up to see Gellar but Gellar sits up and gets mildly excited, so they come in and just tie her down to a table full-body style…bit of an overreaction there…

Downstairs, she finds out that creepy journalist guy, is a creepy journalist guy. I’m not exactly sure what story he thinks he’s getting out of this. Maybe it’s just because I don’t remember the first one, but it seems like it’d have to be a slow news day for this to really be worthy of attention. Then outside, Gellar falls prey to the old bad horror movie tactic of dying in her second scene and really only being there to add a popular name to the opening credits:

Yeah...not quite Buffy Season 5 death, is it?

Then we switch to Chicago, Illinois – SERIOUSLY? JUST STOP! STOP RANDOMLY SWITCHING LOCATIONS AND ADDING STORYLINES! Is it that hard, Grudge 2?! Is it that hard just to stick to one story and make us care about the characters? Or do you seriously think that the best way to get us invested is to just keep piling on more and more worthless shit stories until we’re too desensitized to care that your movie is a big pile of nothing?!

But alright, fine, I’ll play along – I’d really love to see how they’re going to try to integrate this with the previous storyline in Japan. The answer is, they really don’t, because there’s really no story to this movie when you get down to it. The Chicago story features a little kid who just loves to look around and act angsty. He discovers that the next door neighbors bring home someone wearing a hoodie so you can’t see their face aaaaand…that’s about all his story is.

Please, that's supposed to set off our warning alarms? I bet half of these shitty apartments have mysterious, shady looking, hood-wearing strangers in them.

Meanwhile, one of the girls from the beginning goes to a ‘love motel’ with her boyfriend where she ends up getting pulled into a mirror, you know, like in Mirrors 2 or something. But the comparisons to Mirrors 2 end there…not that you’d really want there to be more. Eugh. Choosing between that movie and this one is kind of like choosing whether to drink sewer water or your own piss.

So the creepy journalist and Aubrey partake in…okay, let’s just be honest: every. Single. Horror movie cliché. Ever! I’m serious. It’s hard to even describe how generic this is. It's like they took the worst parts of every mid-2000s super serious ghost horror movie and put them all together, and removed all semblance of story and actual scares. Like a pot-luck of terribleness! You’ve got the scenes of them looking around for clues in books:

Reading books equals smart plot? I don't think so.

You’ve got the scenes of them prowling around in dark shadowy places with contemplative looks on their faces, while dramatic music plays:

Seriously, TURN ON THE LIGHTS. I can't see anything, you morons! How is this seedy darkly-lit garbage supposed to be intimidating? A little, sure, but this much? It's just overkill.

To add insult to injury and turn your brains into an even gooier paste than they already were from this film’s cranial deficiency, we also get scenes of the little kid in Chicago doing the exact same ‘walk around and look for clues, and so it all just sort of blends into a big, tiresome mess. It’s just so slow and so dull that you will be lulled into a horrid comatose state after only a few minutes of watching it. I was. And I never want to go back!

Oh, for Christ's sake...yes, I really DID want to sit here and watch a black screen for 90 minutes. Thank you, movie...

And you’ve got the scene of the creepy journalist and Aubrey sharing a ‘sensitive’ moment when she tells him about how she and Gellar had a fight and didn’t speak ever again. Yeah, really…how investing…

"See? These characters have so much emotion! They're talking about their personal lives and everything!"

I guess the “story” with this, if there even is one, is that the curse from the first movie is spreading because more and more people are dying from rage. Except the whole ‘dying from rage’ thing isn’t ever explained or expounded upon, just like the first movie. Basically all that really happens is that people see a silly looking CGI ghost and then scream a lot. Oooh, scary!

So creepy journalist dies and you can barely tell because he was never very alive to begin with. This freaks Aubrey out for a few seconds, but I guess he was such a weak character that even she couldn’t manage to stay in grief for longer than that…oh, okay, I know it’s a cheap shot continually talking about how shallow the movie’s characters are. But honestly, as an artist, how can you ever be okay with writing like this movie has anyway? I mean what’s the allure? How can you sit there and just let this pass? You’re telling me you NEVER get the impulse to even TRY to make something interesting? Writing boring, half-assed characters is exactly that – BORING!

I guess the allure is supposed to be in the “brilliant” atmosphere and scares, then. That’s fine – but this isn’t some art-house film; it’s a sequel to The Grudge! Your standards already hit bottom before you even put your hands on a keyboard to start this script. So, what, you want to have a scene where one character encounters a girl who, for some random-ass reason, drinks milk and then vomits it back up – right into the gallon, before drinking it again? Well, I’ll tell you; that is just a brilliant way to avoid buying a new gallon of milk.

MILK!

What’s that? You’re completely lost as well on what the story is supposed to be? Don’t worry. Just laugh at this insipid scene of a crazy old man playing ‘peek a boo’ with Aubrey while she’s on a bus:

....why? Just why? I don't even understand. What is this supposed to be?

YES. THIS IS REAL. THE MOVIE’S SCARES INVOLVE VOMITED-UP MILK AND PEEK-A-BOO.

God, OK, so what…let’s at least try to get back on track with the story, as hard as it is to sit through this without stabbing the nearest person to you. I guess that creepy girl in the hood was actually the one Japanese transfer student from earlier, the one whose “friends” locked her in the closet and stuff. She has brought the Grudge curse to America! Shock and awe! Now when people die with anger in their hearts…STUFF WILL HAPPEN!

You know, it’s been two friggin’ years since I reviewed the original Grudge film and this plot point still makes NO SENSE to me. People die angry all the time. And what’s even supposed to happen? They turn into blue-skinned anemic ghosts with bug eyes?

Yeah, that's a nice crack whore who has two kids to feed at home, now where is the real monster?

Yeah, not really that scary! And those special effects, seriously now? This was 2006. I know not every movie had the budget to create something outstanding, but at least a little more effort so that your effects don’t look silly rather than scary would be nice! That’s all I ask, movie! That’s all I ask!

The climax is a big unpleasant mess of screaming, low guttural belching from the ghosts and spazzoid camera angles that make it look like the whole scene was filmed by a guy doing hardcore ninja-dancing at a Hatebreed show. Who even cares about what the story was? It’s beyond salvaging now. Any attempt at such would just result in the death of your faith in mankind’s creative processes. Or just propulsive vomiting. Either one would make sense to me.

This is ass! I can’t think of anything more insipid and thoughtless! Sigh…what am I even supposed to say, anyway? This is not worth any lengthy diatribes on its lack of quality. This is not even worth a short burst of violent expletives. This is just trash that deserves to be thrown in the garbage can. I was going to put some kind of joke about dying angry and coming back as one of those silly looking ghosts, but hey, this isn’t even worth my worst humor possible. The Grudge 2 is a black hole of worthiness! Fie, fie! A pox on thee, terrible, terrible cinematic wasteland!

All images copyright of their original owners. I do not own any of them.