It is said that some filmmakers make the same movie over and over, and in Takashi Shimizu's case, this wouldn't be hyperbole. More than half of the eight films and straight-to-video releases credited to him at the Internet Movie Database are variations on a single theme—the notion that, when people die in a state of extreme rage or sorrow, the place of their death becomes tainted by a curse that kills everyone who comes near—and if The Grudge is anything to go by, each film contains within itself variations on those variations. Shimizu's newest film is actually the second remake in a series that began in 2000, with the video Ju-on: The Curse and its sequel. This was followed by the theatrical film Ju-on: The Grudge, which had a brief run in American theaters earlier this year, and yet another sequel. And now, Shimizu has directed another remake, this time in English.
Produced by Sam Raimi, who once made horror movies of his own before he got entangled in the affairs of a certain blockbusting webslinger, The Grudge is the first film to take advantage of the new interest in Japanese horror films—or at least their Americanized remakes—that was sparked a couple of years ago by The Ring. And it is significant that Shimizu, in his latest return to the well, has kept the story as close to its cultural roots as possible, as if to remind those who follow him to respect the cinematic tradition upon which they draw. By keeping this version of The Grudge set in Japan, Shimizu also adds an extra level of tension and apprehension, since most of the protagonists this time around are from the United States and are unfamiliar with the ghosts and spirits that haunt Japanese folklore.
Alas, the film's mysterious sense ...1
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