Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Takashi Shimizu|
|Produced by||Sam Raimi
|Written by||Stephen Susco|
|Starring||Sarah Michelle Gellar
|Music by||Christopher Young|
|Editing by||Jeff Betancourt|
|Studio||Ghost House Pictures
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures (USA)
Universal Pictures (UK)
|Running time||92 minutes|
The Grudge is a 2004 American horror film, and the first installment in The Grudge franchise. It is a remake of the Japanese film Ju-on: The Grudge. The film was released in North America on October 22, 2004 by Columbia Pictures, and was directed by Takashi Shimizu (director of the Ju-on series) while Stephen Susco scripted the film. The plot is told through a non-linear sequence of events and includes several intersecting subplots.
The Grudge describes a curse that is born when someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage or extreme sorrow. The curse is an entity created where the person died. Those who encounter this evil supernatural force die and the curse is reborn repeatedly, passed from victim to victim in an endless, growing chain of horror. The following events are explained in their actual order; the original film is presented in a non-linear narrative.
The Saeki family lived happily in suburban Tokyo, but housewife Kayako Saeki fell in love with her son's teacher, Peter Kirk, obsessively writing about him in a diary. However, her husband Takeo discovered the diary, believing Kayako was having an affair, and becomes mentally disturbed, murdering his wife. He then drowned his young son Toshio in the bathtub to cover his tracks, along with the pet cat, Mar. Takeo hid the bodies in the attic and closet, before committing suicide by hanging himself. Peter comes to the Saeki house to speak with Kayako, only to find her corpse. Devastated, he flees the house, committing suicide the next day by falling over a balcony from a building before his wife. The family rise again as ghosts due to their rage and sorrow, notably Kayako, who appears as an onryō ghost, leaving the curse on the house.
A few years after the Saeki family dies, the Williams family move in from America. While husband Matthew is thrilled with the house, his wife Jennifer and dementia-ridden mother Emma feel uncomfortable. Jennifer is quickly consumed by the curse. Matthew returns home to find the house trashed, Emma upset, and his wife dying. Matthew and Jennifer are killed by Toshio. Yoko, a careworker, arrives at the house the next day to find Emma alone, and encounters Kayako, who attacks her. Concerned about Yoko's disappearance, her employer Alex sends another careworker, Karen Davis, to take over the care for Emma. At the house, Karen is shocked when she finds a seemingly alive Toshio and Mar in the closet, contacting Alex for help.
Alex finds Emma dead in the house and Karen in a state of shock, and summons the police, including Detective Nakagawa. Nakagawa and his partner Igarashi explore the house, finding the bodies of Matthew and Jennifer in the attic along with a bottom jaw. Matthew's sister Susan disappears after being attacked by Kayako, and Alex is murdered when visited by a Kayako-possessed Yoko. Karen begins to be haunted by Kayako herself, informing her boyfriend Doug of the situation. She researches the origins of the house, eventually confronting Nakagawa, who explains three of his colleagues investigating the Saeki deaths all were consumed by the curse. That night, Nakagawa goes to the house and tries to burn it down, but is killed by Takeo.
Karen races to the house upon learning Doug has ventured there to look for her, experiencing a vision in which she sees Peter visiting the house and finding Kayako's corpse. Karen finds Doug paralyzed by fear, and attempts to flee the house with him, only to witness Kayako drag herself down the stairs and crawl on Doug, causing him to die of fright. Karen spots the petrol and manages to ignite it with Doug's lighter just as Kayako is about to kill her. Karen is whisked to a hospital, but learns the house survived the fire. Visiting Doug's body, Karen realizes she is still haunted by Kayako, who appears behind her.
- Sarah Michelle Gellar as the film's main protagonist Karen Davis, an exchange student who takes a job as a caregiver to obtain social studies credit.
- Jason Behr as Doug, Karen's boyfriend, who attends the University of Tokyo, and has a part-time job working at a restaurant.
- William Mapother as Matthew Williams, a "number cruncher" who receives a promotion from his superiors that requires him to relocate to Tokyo.
- Clea DuVall as Jennifer Williams, Matthew's lonely wife who is trying to adjust to a new life in Japan.
- KaDee Strickland as Susan Williams, Matthew's younger sister, who resides and works in Tokyo, and who helps her brother, sister-in-law and mother choose and move into their new home.
- Grace Zabriskie as Emma Williams, Matthew's mother, who is suffering from severe lethargy with mild dementia.
- Bill Pullman as Peter Kirk, a teacher working in Tokyo, who receives a number of love letters from Kayako, a woman he does not know.
- Rosa Blasi as Maria Kirk, Peter's wife.
- Ted Raimi as Alex, the director of the care centre that Yoko and Karen are stationed at.
- Ryo Ishibashi as Det. Nakagawa, a detective whose colleagues all died or disappeared under mysterious circumstances during the investigation of the Saeki family murder case. He is all too aware of the house and its strange history.
- Yoko Maki as Yoko, a Japanese care worker who speaks English, and is assigned to care for Emma Williams.
- Yuya Ozeki as Toshio Saeki, the eight year-old son of Kayako and Takeo Saeki.
- Takako Fuji as Kayako Saeki, a married woman who develops an attraction towards Peter Kirk. Her vengeful ghost is the main antagonist of the film.
- Takashi Matsuyama as Takeo Saeki, Kayako's husband, who is angry when he discovers her feelings for another man. He murders Kayako prior to the film's events and puts a curse on the house.
The Grudge opened at 3,348 theaters in North America. The film generated $39.1 million in ticket sales in its first weekend (October 22–24, 2004). Ticket sales declined 43% on the second weekend earning $21.8 million, thereby becoming the first horror film to top the Halloween box office since House on Haunted Hill. The film made US$110,359,362 in North America alone and a total of $187,281,115 worldwide, far exceeding the expectations of box office analysts and Sony Pictures executives. Sony also stated production costs of less than $10 million, making it one of the most profitable movies of the year. The film is recognized as the second highest grossing horror remake of the past 40 years behind The Ring, however in front of horror films such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and One Missed Call; the former of two had successful franchises and were expected to be far more successful whereas the latter is also an Asian horror remake and did far less in terms of box office. It is also second in Japanese remakes but seventh in the highest openings for an October and Fall release, being beaten by family movies.
Despite being based on the original Ju-on: The Grudge, viewers have compared elements of the film to another J-horror remake called The Ring as both antagonists (Samara and Kayako) look strikingly similar. Despite most mixed reviews for the film, Sarah Michelle Gellar's performance as Karen has been received positively.
The Grudge received mixed reviews, earning a "Rotten" rating of 39% on Rotten Tomatoes (with 61 out of 156 film reviews counted fresh) with the consensus citing "There's some creepy imagery to be found, but not much in the way of logic or truly jarring scares." Classic FM's film critic Simon Bates deemed it the scariest film he had ever seen.
The Grudge was released on DVD and UMD on February 1, 2005, as a standard version of the film with only a few special features. On May 17, 2005, the unrated director's cut of The Grudge was released on DVD in North America. The release included several scenes that were cut to achieve a lower rating from the MPAA, as well as others which were removed for pacing and plot reasons. This version of the film was used as the theatrical run in Japan. The release also contained new deleted scenes and commentaries, director Takashi Shimizu's original Ju-On short films, "4444444444" and "In a Corner", and more. The film was released on Blu-ray Disc in Germany in 2008 and in the U.S. on May 12, 2009, the same day that The Grudge 3 was released on DVD. It was made available to purchase on iTunes in 2008.
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- Shock Till You Drop (October 16, 2007). "Screenplay sent in to Ghost House Pictures". Shock Till You Drop. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
- Box Office Mojo (October 20, 2006). "Grudge opens on 3,348 theatres". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2006-10-20.
- Box Office Mojo (October 20, 2006). "Grudge tops box office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2006-10-20.
- Box Office Mojo (October 20, 2006). "The Grudge was expected to generate 20 Million". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2006-10-20.
- Amazon (October 20, 2006). "Standard Version release". Amazon. Retrieved 2006-10-20.
- Amazon (October 20, 2006). "Uncut Version release". Amazon. Retrieved 2006-10-20.
- Official website
- The Grudge at the Internet Movie Database
- The Grudge at AllMovie
- Director Takashi Shimizu Q&A