Warning! This site contains satire, cynical adult humor, celebrity gossip, and an occasional peanut by-product or two!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Grudge 2

I can hardly wait to see The Grudge 3. Picture it. There will be theaters full of disgruntled movie-goers across the nation who will demand that Takashi Shimizu, the director and co-writer of The Grudge and The Grudge 2, be taken out to a public square and flogged for his laziness in putting together such a lame sequel to what was a great horror original. When the courts won’t allow that to happen, an angry family man just a hair-trigger too close to letting the squirrels out of the cage up in his attic goes completely meshuganah, kills his wife, his little boy and the family cat, and then finishes the day off by hanging himself in the foyer of their home so there will be plenty of room for the media to crowd in for pictures during the obligatory police press conference he knows will follow his murder/suicide spree. Oh, and he knows that the more people who cram into the house, the better the odds are that his cranky, periwinkle blue, and very dead wife and son will get the opportunity to torment those annoying reporters from the Fox News Network or better yet, that acerbic Nancy Grace herself, the grudgiest of all the news media. In other words, The Grudge 3 will be a lot better than The Grudge 2, which is to say it is basically just the same old crapola wrapped in a slightly new package but with the promise of some socially redeeming value that is completely missing from this installment.

Why Shimizu even bothered with The Grudge 2 is a question I yen to know the answer to, but I think the answer lies in my very own question. Yen. Dinars. Pounds. Euros. Dollars. Crowns. Cash. It doesn’t bear any of the signs of creativity or creepiness he imbued The Grudge with two years ago. Instead, it appears as if he began to make one movie, changed his mind after a few weeks of filming, took up another idea and filmed that for a while, and then mashed them both together with a whole lot of Texas chainsaw editing in the hope that no one would notice that he had made a few humongous mistakes and hoped that anyone asking for continuity or an explanation for why Shimizu’s raging Japanese ghosts are now pestering apartment dwellers in Chicago would just be too confused to even know what to ask.

First, let me clear up any misconception you may have that I am not a fan of the horror genre. After seeing
The Grudge 2 at the Essex Cinemas this past weekend a woman on her way into the theater quizzed me about my reaction to the movie and I gave her that face that one usually reserves for bad movies or changing babies’ diapers. “It wasn’t nearly as suspenseful as the original” I offered. “Oh,” she replied. “You just don’t like horror movies.” That was a comment that cut me deeper than Jason Voorhees’ machete could ever reach. Not like horror movies? I grew up on them, and my tastes are far from high-brow. Oh sure, I can enjoy the respectable complexities of a classic like Psycho, but I’m just as happy with a silly slasher stinker like My Bloody Valentine. All I ask is for reliability in the script making sense and some kind of logic behind why what’s happening is happening. I mean, geez, even Mel Gibson has been able to come up with some pathetic excuse to explain his “motives” of late, so I’d expect with millions of Yen or dollars, or whatever at his disposal Shimizu could at least throw us a bone and try to get his stories straight.

Okay, so he tries. He just doesn’t try hard enough. Even the fattest kid in PE class can inevitably do one push-up before he collapses. Shimizu doesn’t even do that. In The Grudge 2, he starts his story with a group of American students studying at an International school in Tokyo who decide to take an impromptu field trip to one of “Japan’s most haunted houses”, which, oddly enough, we are also told “was burned to the ground” two years previously when an American family died there under mysterious circumstances, just as the Japanese family who lived there before had been murdered. More bizarre than the murders is the fact that two years have gone by and yellow police tape surrounds the perimeter of the property (well it does in some scenes, then it disappears, then reappears, then disappears throughout) and creepier still is the fact that the house that “burned to the ground” is standing in what looks like satisfactory shape where it always was. Inside, the foyer is charred, but the adjoining rooms appear to be fine, and the stairs to “ghost central” upstairs are still in good working order. Go figure. I don’t want to be too picky, but I never did understand why the son’s bedroom was the center of everything wretched when Daddy-not-so-Dearest drowned Mommy and Toshio in the downstairs bathroom. It seems like if someone was going to hold a grudge they’d be more likely to do it at the scene of the crime instead of upstairs and to the left. I know I get a lot more p.o.’ed at my Cousin Sherman when I am actually in my dining room and can see the burn mark he left with his cigarette on my Ethan Allen mahogany table that I specifically asked him not to smoke near than if I think about while I’m sitting on a Summer’s afternoon at Mallet’s Bay. Face it; being at the place where the horrible thing happened is going to be a whole lot more effective than hanging out in the kid’s room or, weirder yet, at a stranger’s flat on Lake Michigan. Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me backtrack a moment.

Before Shimizu turns his attention to Chi-town, he has Joan of Arcadia, er, Amber Tamblyn (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) answer her mother’s call to fly to Tokyo to check on her sister, Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar; Southland Tales), who has been in an accident. An accident? Karen was the one who burned (or didn’t) the haunted house two years (or was it a day ago?) and Mother (Joanna Cassidy; Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector) has just now gotten the news. Poor Amber/Aubrey. She arrives and finds Karen still bruised and burned from the fire that killed her fiancé from the original The Grudge. She’s verklempt all around and tries to warn Aubrey that a crazy ghost is after her but before you know it, Karen’s broken loose of her restraints and is running wild throughout the hospital, pursued down dark and empty corridors by Kayako (Takako Fuji; The iDol), the begrudging banshee. Kayako herds her up to the roof and proves to all inquisitive Japanese once and for all that blonde American former vampire slayers can not fly, though they do make quite an impression when given the chance to do so.

From here things get very muddy and all you really need to know is that Kayako and her squawking spawn do their best to bump off those wicked girls from the school who have trespassed on their property as well as take out Aubrey and a way too young and slick-looking hotshot journalist named Eason (Edison Chen; Gau ngao gau), who has devoted three years (now it’s three years?) of his life tracking the mysteries of the murders in the house. He must have started in elementary school.

Cheap thrills ensue as the ghosts pop out in all the expected places, which are not exactly dramatic to anyone who has seen the original because it’s become a bit too predictable by this time, but there are a few well-done scares, particularly in a photo darkroom and a girls’ deserted locker room.

Poof! Aubrey and company’s story evaporates quicker than you can say “I hope Saw III is going to be better than this” and the action lurches forward to the sketchy story in Chicago, where Stevie Wonder himself could see how the two tales are going to be marginally forced into a “legitimate” connection by the not-very-mystifying puzzle of who the stranger in the hooded sweatshirt is who moves into the co-op and thus causes people to seemingly go ballistic in record time.

Yep, Kayako and Toshio Saeki are globetrotting ghosties, free-spirited spirits, passport-carrying phantoms, but with a bad attitude that would make a Hell’s Angel blush. I still don’t get why the two of them are so enraged and meanwhile Father of the Year Takeo (Takashi Matsuyama; in archival flashback footage from The Grudge) seems to have mellowed out considerably since he was last seen hanging around the house. The only thing he’s haunting is my fashion nightmares, but that’s another detour we’ll leave behind for now.

By film’s finish, it is tragically obvious that questions will not be answered and that Takashi Shimizu does, indeed, plan a real life The Grudge 3. It has already been
announced as in the early stages of production. We can only hope that he takes the time to scare up a script before he puts this one before the cameras. Now that just might be spooky enough to make me forgive my grudge against him for this flaccid entry in the series.

No comments: