The Grudgrilogy by Frank Marmoset

When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage… A curse is born.

The curse gathers in that place of death.

Those who encounter it will be consumed by its fury.

And then they will make nine films about it.

But Frank will only review the three American ones… Because he’s lazy and too dumb for subtitles.

The Grudge: A Fistful Of Grudges (2004)

The Grudge is an American remake of the Japanese horror film Ju-on: The Grudge, which was itself a remake of the earlier Japanese film Ju-on. All three versions were directed by Takashi Shimizu, who also directed Ju-on 2, Ju-on: The Grudge 2, and The Grudge 2. So, what I’m noticing here is, this guy loves him some grudge. Grudging is his business and business is good. He’s the OG: Original Grudgster. In the movie of his life, he’d be played by Grudge Reinhold.

Alright, that’s enough of that.

This film (the remake of the remake of the original) stars Sarah Michelle Gellar as a tiny cute blonde woman working in Japan. On the first day of her new job she encounters three angry Japanese ghosts: a woman (Kayako), her young son (Toshio), and their pet cat (name unknown – let‘s call him Mittens). Pretty soon Gellar gets seriously grudgified. These ghosts are grudgy as hell as they‘re not going to take it anymore! By which I mean they’re going to crawl around with long spooky hair all over the place, make weird belchy sounds, scare the bejesus out of Ms Gellar, and kill Ted Raimi (the Clint Howard of the Raimi family).

The Grudge uses a fractured narrative, intertwining several plot threads from several timeframes. It’s a clever way to explain how these ghosts became so grudgy without too much exposition, but because we never spend enough time with any one character I found it hard to care about any of them. Even Gellar, who’s perfectly good as the ostensible lead, doesn’t have enough screen time to develop into an engaging protagonist.

But a bigger problem – and this is not the film’s fault – is that I don’t find ghosts threatening as movie monsters. I prefer a knife-wielding lunatic or an asshole animal, and The Grudge’s vengeful spirits (with the exception of Mittens the cat) don’t fit into either of those categories. This indifference to the subject matter coupled with the unengaging characters meant The Grudge dragged along with all the urgency and excitement of a melancholic tortoise for me.

It’s also a very drab film – more slow moving and po-faced than I prefer my horror to be. After awhile it felt like the cinematic equivalent of clinical depression. First, a general malaise set in, then my interest began to wane, feelings of hopelessness and despair settled into my bones, and pretty soon I just wanted it all to be over. Thankfully, the end came after only ninety-five minutes, at which point the clouds parted, the sun shone down, birds twittered, squirrels made merry in the trees, and I didn’t have to jump off a building or anything.

It’s over! The grudgery is over!

Oh, no, wait. There are two more of these things!

4/10

The Grudge 2: For A Few Grudges More (2006)

This sequel to the remake of the remake (or is it the remake of the sequel to the remake?) sees Kayako, Toshio and Mittens return to get their grudge on again. When it comes to spectral vengeance, they’re the grudge, grury and grexecutioner. They wanna grudge you up. And then possibly go out for a chocolate grudge sundae.

Amber Tamblyn takes the lead this time as the sister of Sarah Michelle Grudger’s character from part one. Amber heads to Japan to find out what happened to her tiny cute blonde sibling, but I bet you can guess what she gets for her troubles. That’s right, she gets well and truly grudged.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to address a lingering question I have from part one:

Why the hell is the cat mixed up in all this?

Humans becoming vengeful spirits after being brutally murdered makes a certain amount of sense, but could a common house cat ever be sufficiently motivated to take ghostly revenge after a wrongful death? Cats, in my experience, are possibly the most lazy creatures on the face of the Earth (that’s why they’re awesome), and it seems to me a cat would much rather lick itself for all eternity in kitty heaven than help a couple of angry ghost humans kill people. But if cats do come back as ghosts, does this mean there are other angry ghost animals, such as ghost hammerhead sharks, ghost tarantulas, and (most importantly) ghost monkeys who fling ghost poop? Because if it does, I would very much like to see a film about that last one.

As to the film itself, my main criticism is that it sent me to sleep twice in less than ninety minutes. At first I thought it was some kind of trick, like maybe the disc gave off an anaesthetic gas whenever it was played, but when I complained about this to the guy at Blockbuster he looked at me funny and asked how much paste I’d eaten today. So, assuming Blockbuster is not conspiring to secretly drug viewers of The Grudge 2 and steal their snacks while they’re snoozing, I have to conclude that this film is even more dreary and unengaging than the first one. Or maybe I was just sleepy.

3/10

The Grudge 3: The Good, The Bad & The Grudgy (2009)

The Grudge 2 ended with angry ghost Kayako travelling all the way to the United States of America, presumably intent on turning it into the United States of Grudgmerica. Her new favourite song is America The Grudgiful. She is annoyed about all the Mexicans stealing her grudges, and she is definitely not happy that her tax dollars are funding the President’s ObamaGrudge initiative.

Damn interfering politicians! The right to bear grudges is a vital part of the grudgstitution! It’s the second agrudgement!

The story picks up where part two ended, and this time those bad mothergrudgers are pestering the residents of a Chicago apartment building and Shawnee Smith from the Saw series. Meanwhile, Kayako’s sister Naoko arrives in the US with a plan to put an end to the grudgery once and for all.

Curiously absent from this instalment is Mittens the angry ghost cat. Seems to me, there are three possible reasons for this. 1) He made his peace with his untimely death and moved on to kitty heaven. 2) He was distracted by an angry ghost mouse, which he spent the whole film chasing. 3) He got stuck in angry ghost quarantine after the trip from Japan. Whatever the reason, I missed the little guy, and I would very much like to see him get a spin-off. If anyone from Ghost House Pictures is reading this review, I volunteer my services as writer of The Adventures Of Mittens The Grudge Cat (provided I’m allowed to include an angry ghost monkey in the story).

What you get with The Grudge 3 is your typical DTV sequel, which is to say it’s a retread of the first two films that’s hampered by a lack of money and style. Grudges 1 and 2 might not have been my cup of tea but they had an undeniable sense of atmosphere and the ghosts looked effectively creepy. In this one, Kayako and Toshio look like cheap parody versions of themselves. It’s a shame, because the director’s previous film was Splinter, which was a solid little low budget horror, but this is a step down in quality for him and for the series.

2/10

Well, that’s it for The Grudge. Part three was apparently the final instalment of the saga, and there are no current plans to bring back Kayako, Toshio and Mittens for further spooky grudgventures. But I’m not sure I believe that. This is the horror business, and in the horror business there’s always room for one more sequel, and then another eight more sequels after that, one of which will almost certainly star Lance Henriksen. So I’m positive we’ll be seeing more of the grudgy ghosts at some point, especially when you consider the wise and immortal words of Dr Hook:

“When you think I’ve grudged you all I can,

I’m going to grudge you a little bit more.”

Thanks for reading. I hope you found this review grudgertaining, and maybe even a little grudgucational. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom. I think I just grudged myself.

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

60 responses to “The Grudgrilogy by Frank Marmoset”

  1. Frank Marmoset says :

    Hooray!

    Mittens the Grudge cat got his very own tag!

    Nicely done, Jarv.

  2. Bartleby says :

    Frank, ghost cats are big in Japanese culture. Just check out Mansion of the Ghost Cat, complete with psychidelic imagery and crazy lady with demon cat ears!

    Nice review. Im so tired of Japanese ghost girls, especially when transplanted to the states. Uggh.

    ‘Ted Raimi–the Clint Howard of the Raimi family’ –nice one

    • Jarv says :

      Supernatural Cats are big in every culture- The Black Cat has had numerous iterations.

    • Frank Marmoset says :

      There’s more Japanese ghost malarkey on the way. Next week is the Pulse trilogy, then the week after that is The Ring almost-trilogy.

      • Jarv says :

        I GRUDGE the Ring remake. SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT.

        Mittens- GET THEM.

      • Frank Marmoset says :

        I haven’t seen Pulse 2 and 3 yet, but so far The Ring remake is the only one of these J-Horror remakes I like. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but these spooky ghost stories are not my cup of tea at all.

      • Jarv says :

        Cannot stand the Ring Remake.

        Really detest it. It’s poorly written slop that makes a mish-mash of the two Japanese films (which are vastly superior) and chickens out of the outstanding ending. Furthermore, it fucks up the appearance of the ghost to whatshisname.

        Crap film. Utter crap. So bad, in fact, that even though I’ve seen Ringu, Ringu 2, and Ringu 0, I haven’t seen the American Ring 2. And that shit with horses can suck a dick.

        What pisses me off about it, is that Ringu was ripe for a remake- remove all the Goblins nonsense and you’ve got a potentially stunning ghost story. And they fucked it up.

      • Jarv says :

        In fact, I actually think I prefer the Grudge Remake to it- and I don’t like the Grudge remake.

      • Frank Marmoset says :

        Well, I’ll do my best t defend the Ring remake when I get to it. I thought it improved on the Japanese version by making the story make some sort of sense. Plus, I like Naomi Watts.

      • Jarv says :

        This is precisely what I mean and why I hate it so much. Ringu is a right mess and was ripe to be remade.

        However, the two knock out scenes of Ringu are the crawling out the telly bit (which they butchered in the American version) and taking the video to Grandpa. Both bits fucked up in the Yank version- because Americans can’t handle an ending that bleak and really love shitty CGI apparently. When you throw in the crap with horses and whatnot (that was completely unnecessary) and pointless diversions and its almost as much of a muddle as the Japanese version.

        I detest it for being a real opportunity missed. It could have been the definitive ghost story of the last 20 years, and what we got was a fucking mess that had to crib one of the best scenes from the sequel to maintain momentum. If it were a film in its own right, I’d give it 5 out of 10. As a remake, and for missing an open goal, it gets 2- both for Watts (yes, I am punitively knocking points off it for incompetence). Kruger is the WORST writer working in Hollywood today, and needs to fuck off.

        We’ll get into this one more when that one goes up.

      • koutchboom says :

        I need to see Ringu, I though the tele crawl was well done in the American one, but I don’t really like the movie. Ring 2 is just silly as shit. ITS ALMOST a so good its bad film, mainly for the DEER attack scene, that was funny as hell.

      • koutchboom says :

        I also like the Ring video parody in Scary Movie 3.

      • Jarv says :

        The Telly Crawl was CGI dogshit in the American one- not a fraction on the original (which was also CGI- but totally differently done). Refused to Watch Ring 2. Doubt it can be as daft as Japanese Ring 2, which is silly, but has a few legitimately frightening scenes.

      • koutchboom says :

        Ring 2 was directed by the same guy that did Ringu 2 (and possibly Ringu 1), I don’t know man being attacked by Deer is probably the least frightening thing I’ve ever scene/heard of soooo its pretty daft.

      • Jarv says :

        Nakata?

        Christ. Anyone know if he did it on purpose?

      • koutchboom says :

        Commercials director Noam Murro was set to direct, but dropped out of the project citing creative differences with Dreamworks Studio.

        Richard Kelly was offered the chance to direct, but turned it down.

      • Frank Marmoset says :

        The Ring 2 is terrible. Starts bad, gets worse, becomes completely stupid and random by the end.

        I’m not defending that one at all.

      • koutchboom says :

        According to the production notes, there were bizarre incidents on set of life reflecting art. On the seventh day, the production office was discovered to have flooded overnight, the result of a burst water pipe. Water is a strong theme in the film. In response, director ‘Hideo Nakata’ requested a Japanese purification ceremony be carried out by a Shinto minister, but the strange incidents continued. While on location, a swarm of thousands of bees descended on the prop truck, prompting the immediate evacuation of the department, before the bees left as quick as they arrived. For no apparent reason, a five-gallon water jug burst open in the production office kitchen, one again flooding the same room that had flooded only weeks earlier. One morning on the Universal lot, a set costumer stepped out of the parking garage to discover an antlered buck charging across the asphalt in her direction. Though deer are a regular occurrence in the hills, the similarity to the deer attack in the film is uncanny.

      • Jarv says :

        *cough* Bullshit *cough*

        I’m astonished Nakata had anything to do with that film.

      • koutchboom says :

        He probably saw how well the first one did and thought he could get in on that.

      • Jarv says :

        Alternatively, he saw how much damage the first one did and thought “well, I may as well bury the fucker”.

        He’d already had one stab at it with the piss-poor Ring 0, so clearly felt he needed another go. Successful this time.

  3. Jarv says :

    Man, those two sequels sound boring.

    I made it through the first one, but pass on the other two.

    Funny stuff. I dread to think how you managed to Grudge yourself.

  4. koutchboom says :

    You should’ve added THE RETURN to this series as a lame rip off.

  5. Frank Marmoset says :

    One other thing that bothers me about these films is there’s no rhyme or reason to anything that happens, no consistent set of rules. The ghosts come and go as they please and can appear pretty much anywhere (even another country). Sometimes they violently kill people, sometimes they make people lethargic and depressed, and sometimes they make them vanish altogether. It’s annoying.

    I like to know what the monster is and what its capable of, then I can enjoy watching how the characters are going to try to escape/survive/kill the monster. When the monster can do whatever the hell it likes whenever the hell it likes, with no consistent logic to any of it, it takes all the tension out of the story for me.

    • Jarv says :

      This is where Ringu scores a win. There’s a clear Rhyme and Reason: Telepathic half goblin- induces death through fear. You’ve got 1 Week to dispense with the curse by passing it on to some poor mug.

    • koutchboom says :

      That reminds me of the movie Monsters that came out last year, where you had no idea what the Monsters where doing/capable of and only seemed to do shit to move the plot forward, their behavior wasn’t consistant. So that took anything scary/thrilling away from that movie.

      • Bartleby says :

        Monsters, with the alien octopi? They couldn’t do anything they wanted. They didn’t have ‘rules’ persay because they were just animals, acting according to an unknown animal nature. Its more that we couldnt parse their agenda than that they didnt have one.

        They werent really hunting anybody anyway, and I’d hardly say they were used only as plot devices.

      • koutchboom says :

        Ehhhh it was just random what they would attack and not attack. Mainly during that car scene it just seemed they did random shit. Like how they were tearing into the cars to get people….then at the end they just ignored the people at the gas station. AND like how the fuck did people live around them if they would just randomely tear into shit just because? AND why was there a giant ass wall built if they can just hover over it? That movie was dumb.

      • just pillow talk says :

        I agree with Bart on this one.

        The monsters were just like wild animals, which by their nature are unpredictable. And they were sort of a mystery to begin with, what with the quarantined typed zones that were established, etc.

      • koutchboom says :

        It just didn’t make any sense as to WHY there would’ve been people living there? AND again since they could float anywhere its not like you could really quarantine them? Also it wasn’t just that they were unpredictable, like the travelers knew not to do this or that at times to not attract attention, but then it didn’t matter? The movie was all over the place with what they could and couldn’t do which took away a lot of the tension. I get that its a wild animal and all but just giving it random abilities???? Umm ok. Like on the water where they see it take down that ship…..no one goes OK lets get the fuck off the water?

      • Jarv says :

        That last one is pretty endemic in lots of films- They shouldn’t go anywhere near the water, yet they can’t help themselves.

      • just pillow talk says :

        I had assumed that there were different types of monsters.

        And I think with the water scene, they knew they were goners if the monster decided to go after them. There’s no way they would have outrun it in that boat. And again, if it’s a wild animal, there are do’s and don’ts, but sometimes it doesn’t matter how well prepared one is.

        See, I think it’s harder to try and pigeon hole these monsters into capabilities/why they choose to do something. It’s not like they are Aliens, which follow a certain path. In Monsters, I thought they were presented more like our wild animals instead of a species with more intellect like Aliens, which had clear goals.

      • Jarv says :

        Hang on- the xenomporphs are a classic example OF wild animals- at least, pre resurrection-

        The first Alien: It’s just a wild animal hunting them in the air ducts. Aliens, again, Wild Animal- taking them back to feed/ incubate. Alien 3- Ripley says “We’re it’s food source”. It stays nearby to eat them specifically.

        Alien Resurrection fucked it though by them being crossbreeds.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah I get that, I just don’t think it worked. The time lines where right, like how’d they have fucking time to build that giant ass wall and still not know a fuck bunch about these aliens? I mean yeah sure I get that we don’t know EVERYTHING about say Great White Sharks except that they like AC/DC, but I mean you know dumping a shit ton of blood in the water is going to get their attention. So its like they should’ve known noises/lights get their attention at least. And again…..why the fuck where people living around these giant aliens that just fucking did whatever, if they didn’t know what they can and can’t do around them?

        Had the quarentine zone been empty that would’ve made more sense, but the fact that people had been living there for years? Ehhh you think one of them would’ve known not to drive at night.

      • koutchboom says :

        And also again if they just fucking did RANDOM ass shit you think they’d been more concerned about it all. There wasn’t any sense of fear from these animals because of that lack of definition about them. When an animal/alien can pretty much do whatever if wants, its boring.

  6. koutchboom says :

    But seriously does anyone else remember seeing the trailer for THE RETURN and automatically thinking it was The Grudge 3?

  7. just pillow talk says :

    These movies never interested me, any of the versions.

  8. Frank Marmoset says :

    Sizeable naturals.

    That is all.

      • Frank Marmoset says :

        I was watching Pulse 2. It has a pair of what Sarah Silverman calls sizeable naturals in it. Seemed worth commenting on.

        Pulse 2 is amazing.

        Wait, hang on, what I mean to say is it’s amazing how they crammed so much crapness into one ninety minute film. How does such an overabundance of crapness not spill out all over the place and make a mess on the carpet?

      • koutchboom says :

        Heheh I didn’t even know they made a Pulse 2. Good thing that movie killed that Steven King book that Eli was looking to direct.

      • Jarv says :

        It did, but they mostly managed to contain it in Pulse 3.

      • Frank Marmoset says :

        Christ, man, I am not looking forward to Pulse 3 at all. It was shot back to back with Pulse 2 and has the same writer/director, so the chances of an increase in quality are pretty much zero.

      • Jarv says :

        Yup.

        0

        Good luck.

  9. Barfy says :

    Only saw the first one and was creeped out by the low growling noise the ghosts made. Don’t remember if Mittens had a low growl too. I’ll take a pass on 2 & 3 but thanks for taking the hit. As always, great write up Frank.

    • Frank Marmoset says :

      Thanks, Barfy.

      Good to see you around these parts, even if I did emotionally blackmail you into it.

      Post more often! 🙂

  10. MORBIUS says :

    Nice write-up Frank, very entertaining read.

    Although, no mention of any Grudgetuitous nudity!

  11. Toadkillerdog says :

    Good write up Frank, but you totally lost me with this line “The Grudge is an American remake of the Japanese horror film Ju-on: The Grudge, which was itself a remake of the earlier Japanese film Ju-on”

    What the hell does that even mean? Are you just trying to give me a stroke figuring that out? if so, it is working Mr Monkey.

    Anyway, I guess that means i did not have a clue while reading the other 99% of the write-up, which is par for the course for me actually.

    BTW do you blame a male cat named ‘mittens’ for being a tad pissy?

    • Toadkillerdog says :

      Ok, I did not see the colon (i try not to look at colons).
      So the full title was Ju-on:The grudge. Chew-on the grudge. Chew-on the Grinch!

    • Frank Marmoset says :

      First they made a film called Ju-on, then they remade it as Ju-on: The Grudge, then they remade the remake (in America this time) as The Grudge. All three times with the same director.

      It’s pretty complicated, especially when you add in the sequel to the Japanese original, the three sequels to the Japanese remake, and the two sequels to the American remake. My head hurts just thinking about it.

  12. ThereWolf says :

    Very good, Frank, cheered me up no end!

    I myself have only seen the first ‘Grudge’, that is to say the Gellar one. I sat completely unmoved for the entire running time – in fact I may even have studied my nails at one point, something I never normally do while watching a flick. There was indeed a fairly chilling atmosphere to the film and the ghost girl was quite freaky but overall, nothing to make me see the sequels.

    Might give the Jap original a go though…

  13. Frank Marmoset says :

    HILARIOUS!

    (Sorry, I mean Grudglarious!)

    This guy should write more reviews!

    What the hell happened to this asshole anyways?

  14. MORBIUS says :

    WTF? Frank wuz her …. shit, almost dropped my delicious sandwich!!!

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