Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Grudge 2





                                 Aubrey, don't go in that house.


The Grudge 2, I must admit, was an odd choice for this October. This was, more or less, a choice deriving from a sudden interest after gazing at the box at Blockbuster. I remember actually seeing this in the theater (barely), and my feelings afterward were pretty much in league with what the majority of horror fans (and fans of the first film and Shimizu's own Ju-on from Japan) felt: that it blew. I just remember this feeling of revulsion, as if I wanted to wash the film off. Not sure if it had to do with the way Sarah Michele Gellar is unceremoniously dismissed from the sequel (her character is treated like shit and dropped from a hospital building right in front of her visiting sister) or her "replacement" for this sequel in Amber Tamblyn (who was hot at this time coming off of Joan of Arcadia), not my choice for a leading actress in a Ju-on type film. Her awkwardness and pouty face are beautifully used in the show, House, but in The Grudge 2 I just found her a bit annoying and dull. I think, at the time, that the way the movie shifts from Japan to America was jarring, too.

I try to be as honest as possible and all because a movie is critically maligned and considered such a load of crap doesn't mean I will just side with popular opinion and spend a large amount of time berating it. There were some moments in this sequel that hit paydirt with me. I always felt that Shimizu was money when it comes to establishing his ghouls in every type of place imaginable. There isn't a corner of a ceiling, crack in the wall, crawlspace, closet, or window that the ghoul mother and son can't appear. Whether under a school desk or the sheets of a bed, the grudge can emerge and if you are "infected" you're shit out of luck.

I went next door and saw something in the window...eyes.


Alternating stories in both Tokyo and Chicago are presented, like in Shimizu's own Ju-on, as a fractured narrative, both stories, and the characters, tormented by the grudge shown as if unlayering the mystery of Koyoko and her origin and how it is spreading like a plague starting to epidemic. There may not be an end in sight since the grudge's infection has now moved abroad as seen in the Chicago apartment complex.



It will not stop. It will grow and destroy everything it touches. It will spread beyond the house. There can be no end to what has started.


I do like how there's a further backstory to Koyoko, although I imagine this sentiment isn't felt by those who consider exposition on an evil a bit overrated. I like how Tamblyn's Aubrey, with help from young Tokyo resident small-time journalist, Eason (Edisen Chen, who does well with the role he's given, a sensitive soul who lends a much needed assistance to Aubrey, a foreigner in desperate need of help), is able to confront Koyoko's mother, after learning from an occult expert (Eason's friend) that she would remove evil spirits and place them in her daughter (this is a disturbing revelation, the fact that, as a child, young Koyoko was a vessel to hold evil spirits removed from her mom's clients). Visually, Shimizu fogs the lens and utilizes POV (and mimicking the blinking of eyes) to convey the mother suddenly seeing her daughter in ghoul form haunting her to death. It is a stunning scene that highlights what the director can do even as the stories and characters fail to equal such visual skill.


I loved the red light photo room sequence where Eason is taking a look at some photographs of the Koyoko house as she, in the form of ink (this is flat cool, especially with the hue of red that mood lights the room), eventually forms into a head and then her body, as she rises from the water of the tray to scare the poor kid to death. Eason also scans an interview of the detective of the case involving Michele Gellar's Karen and after hearing a sound (the throaty groan, that Koyoko utterance that is now quite iconic,  memorable even if the movies that feature her may not deserve it), sees Koyoko's face in a window. Lots of slight figures of Koyoko in the background with characters in the foreground unaware or ill-prepared on how to escape her infection, that is always welcome by me...there's just something spellbinding about establishing a dangerous ghoul's shape from behind victims.

Something bad lives there. Something bad that's making everything else bad here.

What did you do? What did you bring here?
It followed me here. They followed me here.




While I think the Tokyo part of the movie works reasonably well (the best visual images come from here and director Shimizu seems more inspired when we are in his part of the world), even as Tamblyn fails to interest me at all, I never thought the Chicago apartment portion clicked. When you have a 100 minute movie with two alternating stories, one is bound to overshadow the other. I think the idea works. We see that the infection doesn't stay contained in a house, but it follows the people who either willingly or inadvertently come in contact with the place where the horrific incident involving Koyoko and her child happened. Probably it would have been best to just feature the Tokyo story and save the American story for another film, but the point was to establish that a certain character--part of both the Chicago and Tokyo stories--links them, the twist important in also commenting on Aubrey's fate. This film also kind of informs us of the fates of anyone who succumbs to Koyoko, as evident by the creepy conversation between Allison (Arielle Kebbel) and her American advisor in Tokyo.

Shimizu loves seductively lensing teenage girls in their private school uniform skirts (and there's plenty of Teresa Palmer showing off her legs, even in bra and panties at one point in the girls' locker room, not to mention, Sarah Roemer in her tantalizing cheerleader uniform), and has one of the teenage girls (she Japanese) in Tokyo preparing to have sex with her hunky American man, denied when Koyoko takes her off into a mirror (one of the few scenes, to me, that doesn't quite work involving Koyoko and her pop-out-of-nowhere appearances). The scene at the end where a girl "poofs" away inside her hoody, Koyoko emerging to grab the arms of the kid in Chicago, is really rather comical to me. Another amusing scene (that still manages to be rather eerie) has Aubrey riding in a bus to meet Koyoko's mother, an elder passenger playing peekaboo with ghost son whose reflection appears in a mirror next to her.

I guess The Grudge 2 was a catalyst in the demise of Japanese-inspired American remakes. I haven't seen The Grudge 3 yet, but when you see direct-to-dvd fare like this and those Pulse sequels, milking whatever value might remain of the first films, the writing's on the wall that perhaps there was a short shelf life for American films cribbing ideas and stories from Japanese horror. Shimizu, in my mind, judging by his terrific Reincarnation and the criminally underrated Marebito, can easily overcome this minor misfire. I can't wait to see his 2011 film, Tormented.

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The Girlfriend Experience- Boundaries

Before I sod off, I have had this on paper for a week! Been either forgetting about it or just avoiding it. Last Thursday night I watche...

Ahs

Ahs

Edc

Edc
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"... perhaps we invent artificial terrors to cope with the real ones."

--host, Donald Pleasence, Terror in the Aisles (1984)

Sbut

Sbut
Snip. Snip

Hal

Hal
There are many things under the sun
---Dr. Werdegast, The Black Cat

hal1

It's Halloween, everyone's entitled to one good scare.

Jtm 2

Jtm 2

Rave

Rave

Mrub

Mrub

Gb

"Back off, man. I'm a scientist."

--Ghostbusters

sm6

sm6

Rv1

Rv1

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Nas

nos3

nos3

Lok

Lok

Po

Po

Ra6

Ra6

dawn

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Dracula's Daughter ('36)

Countess Zaleska: Be thou exorcised oh Dracula, and thy body long undead find destruction throughout eternity in the name of thy dark unholy Master.

mh2

mh2

z2

z2

Hiii

Hiii

Fred

Fred

Ghspo

Ghspo
Movie, so-so, but poster, cool

Enl

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nos4

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gm

To a new world of gods and monsters!


No 2

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Jason Lives

clothes line

clothes line

Ahorr

Ahorr

Cbi1

Cbi1
Case of the bloody iris

Wsha

Wsha

Mouth3

Mouth3
In the Mouth of Madness

Fdfn2

Fdfn2
Freddy's Dead '91

Vyr

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Vampyres 1974

Sh fr

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Friday the 13th Part 2

Vlov

Vlov
Carmilla's kiss

f133

f133

Edpos

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Ttf2

Ttf2

Jm2

Jm2
El Hombre Lobo

Psycho '60

It's sad, when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son. But I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man... as if I could do anything but just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. They know I can't move a finger, and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do... suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... they'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."

Kife

Kife
Knife is calling, Psycho 2

Meg

Meg
Meg Tilly, Psycho II

ring 2

ring 2
the ring 2002, "the tape"

poster

poster

exor1

exor1
"the visitor" The Exorcist (1973)

Conj

Conj

Tz1

Tz1
"Masks", Twilight Zone

In the kitchen, The Shape

In the kitchen, The Shape
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exc4

exc4

Ps56

Ps56

Hun

Hun
Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932

Ps89

Ps89

Cof

Cof
Victor and Paul, with their Monster

pcushig

pcushig

His

His

Efny

Efny

sus

sus
I'm going to grind you down to blood and screams.

--Innocent Blood 1992
Rest in Peace, Robert Loggia

wb

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

WZ

WZ

Edfen

Edfen
"Do not enter the city...It belongs to the dead now."

h1

h1
Look behind you!

Bs

Bs
"There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it."
--Alfred Hitchcock

linnea

linnea

Amer

Amer
Taste of metal

The h gang

The h gang

Nlc

Nlc
Old Skool Nostalgia

Hp

Hp

Smoke

Smoke
Got a smoke?

Strek

Strek
Live long and prosper

Hill

Hill

Castle

Castle

SRW

"This seems to be the place where the plot begins to thicken..."
--Spooks Run Wild (1941)

Frere and dummy

Frere and dummy

Mlove

Mlove

Alone/dark

"There are no crazy people, doctor. We're all just on vacation."

--Alone in the Dark (1982)

Lips

Lips

Fhz

Fhz

Ph

Ph

Vestron

Vestron
Vintage VHS

sm 3

sm 3

Monique parent

Monique parent
Erotique in Review

Were5

Were5

f13

f13
November 2015

Bmate

Bmate

--Wes Craven

I think there is something about the American dream, the sort of Disneyesque dream, if you will, of the beautifully trimmed front lawn, the white picket fence, mom and dad and their happy children, God-fearing and doing good whenever they can, and the flip side of it, the kind of anger and the sense of outrage that comes from discovering that that's not the truth of the matter, that gives American horror films, in some ways, kind of an additional rage.

Ms45 w

Ms45 w

Churcvh

Churcvh
The Church 1989

Ww

Ww
The Whip and the Body 1963

Lsho

"Now, no novacaine....it dulls the senses"

--Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Christopher Lee

Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.

Vampyros lesbos

You are one of us now. The Queen of the Night will bear you up on her black wings

The Unknown 1927

No....not sick. But I have lost some flesh.

Alonzo, the Armless.

Ckvh

Ckvh

Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)

Glen: We'd like to speak to the Townsends, please.

The Butler: They are not available till after sunset.

Bw5

Bw5

Jill

Jill

Mad Love 1935

Doctor Gogol: Did you ever hear of Galatea?

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: Gala - who? Not wanting a statue of him, are you?

Doctor Gogol: I don't want a statue of Galatea. You see, she was a statue herself. Pygmalion formed her. Out of marble, not wax. And then she came to life in his arms.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [calling to his assistant] Start the motor, Henry. There's queer people on the streets of Montmartre at this time of night.

Doctor Gogol: [handing him his card] Here, a hundred francs if you deliver the statue to my house.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [reading card] It's a go, Dr. Go... gol. First thing in the morning.