At the request of her severely depressed, bedridden mother, the girl from The Ring travels to Japan to find out what happened to her estranged sister, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The only information she has is that her sister is in a hospital and is being accused of murdering her boyfriend and attempting to burn down a house.
Following an opening credits-traveling-to-Japan montage, Ring girl finds her sister in the hospital frail and withdrawn. The two reconcile with a brief hug and a couple “I love you”'s. Their reunion is cut short when Buffy devolves into gibberish about a cursed house and has to be subdued with 4-point restraints and a tranquilizer. Faster than you can say, “expensive cameo” Buffy is dead, succumbing to the horrifying ghosts she spent 90 minutes successfully evading in The Grudge (i.e., think opening scene in Friday the 13th Part 2 or Halloween Resurrection). It’s a self-imposed, kind of pointless, race against time as the girl from The Ring and a reporter (there’s always a reporter in these Asian movies isn’t there?) try to figure out just what the hell is going on.
After becoming increasingly disappointed with all the JUON (Grudge) sequels/incarnations (this would make number 6, by the way) I wasn’t expecting much in the way of original scares. Well I’ll be damned, The Grudge 2 delivers the goods. Told in the same disjointed temporal manner as its predecessors, you’re never quite sure how seemingly disparate storylines link up. Characters that we see die are shown alive and well at various points in the film. It all coalesces nicely in the end. Along the way creator/director Takashi Shimizu provides plenty of jump-out-of-your-seat (at least Whirlygirl, who is normally fairly reserved, did) frights by jamming his creepy-as-hell ghosts into every nook and cranny you can think of. One scare involving a darkroom and picture development is particularly effective. And lets not forget blue boy, Toshio. You’d think after 5 previous versions of this film that Toshio’s unexpected appearances would lose their punch. You’d be wrong. Every time that damn kid makes an appearance my heart drops into my crotch.
The thing that’s so remarkable about Toshio is that he doesn’t actually do anything save meow like a frightened cat once in a while. It’s a testament to Shimizu that he can conjure up such a harbinger of dread with a little blue Japanese kid. Oh yea, we also learn the origin of that creepy JUON/Grudge sound. You know, that throat gurgling sound heard when a character is about to bite it. Once you learn its origin you’ll exclaim, “Oh, of course!” Octopunk will probably say, “Oh I figured that out before”, but don’t listen to him ‘cause he’d be lyin’. Anyway, the proper way to watch this film series is to watch JUON and then The Grudge 2, the rest are throwaways.
Watch the trailer if you want to give away a bunch of the scares:
The Grudge 2