Grudge II builds upon the events of both the first Grudge movie and Ju-on -- I like to consider these stories to be mutually exclusive, having happened to two different groups of characters at different times. Someone with more experience with the Grudge saga may take it upon himself to hit me over the head with a trout and say, "Duh, you twit. That's so painfully obvious." The difference is, now that Buffy the Vampire Slayer has burned down the Grudge house, the spirits are free to roam wherever they please and drift off to remote locales, like Chicago. It's here that my favorite of the Grudge threads takes place.
The movie is divided into three distinct chapters, broken up in time and interwoven, but all connected in some way. JPX explored the aftermath of the Sarah Michelle Gellar arc in his review and Octo, with his massive "Head of the Family" brain and word economy will probably find a way to squeeze the entire plot into his review.
Chicago -- The film opens with Trish at the stove placidly cooking bacon as her husband Bill enters the room, seething because Trish came home late the night before. He thunders at her from his dining room chair until Trish floats over to him and pours a panful of bacon grease onto his head. I'm thinking, surely there are going to be awful repercussions for such a bold move, but then Trish whacks Bill on the head with the frying pan, ending that particular concern, and calmly sits down to enjoy Bill's bacon.
Tracking back an indeterminate amount of time, Trish is just moving in with Bill and his two kids, Jake and Lacey. Bill and Lacey take to the change immediately. Jake is iffy about the whole thing, but Trish's warmth is irresistable.
Jake is becoming increasingly rattled by the happenings in the aparment next door. He spots a hooded figure creeping around the place and at night he hears awful sounds. His eyes become darker and his behavior becomes erratic. It's happening to everyone in the apartment. Obviously to Trish and Bill, as the events of Scene 1 demonstrate. But also to family friends. When Lacey goes over to brag to her friend Sally about making the cheerleading team, Sally greets her with a cold stare and then chugs an entire gallon of milk and then vomits the milk right back into the jug.
There are some excellent shocks lurking in Grudge II. I particularly enjoyed the events in a school psychologist's office and those in a photo darkroom. But Grudge II works less because of its shocks and more because of its permeating dread. It's at its finest when everything is quiet, when the particular weirdnesses on the screen billow and mingle -- the milk scene is a fine example.
I postulated to Octo after the movie that this could be the beginning of a massive Grudge epidemic --- I've been on a big apocalypse kick ever since Dawn of the Dead. Octo panned my hypothesis, saying that the Grudge works on a much smaller scale, taking out small groups of people. One of these days, though, the ghosts are going to crawl towards someone really popular, like a president or a movie star, and then everyone is going to have to deal with Cat-boy and Mrs. Croakfire leaping out of their morning coffee.