Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Takashi Shimizu|
|Produced by||Sam Raimi
|Written by||Stephen Susco|
|Starring||Sarah Michelle Gellar
|Music by||Christopher Young|
|Edited by||Jeff Betancourt|
Ghost House Pictures
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures (USA)
Universal Pictures (UK)
Roadshow Entertainment (AU/NZ)
|Box office||$187.2 million|
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.
As the first installment of The Grudge franchise, it was followed by two sequels: The Grudge 2 (which was released on October 13, 2006), and The Grudge 3 (released on May 12, 2009). A reboot of the series, penned by Jeff Buhler and produced by Sam Raimi, was announced in early 2014.
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 college professor, Peter Kirk, obsessively writing about him in her diary. However, her husband Takeo discovered the diary. Believing Kayako was having an affair, he became mentally disturbed and murdered his wife by snapping her neck to a 90 degree angle, crushing her throat. 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 Kayako's ghost murdered him by hanging him with her hair in Toshio's bedroom. Peter came to the Saeki house to speak to Kayako after receiving a letter from her, only to find her corpse. Shocked, he fled the house, killing himself the next day by falling over the balcony of a building in front of his wife. The family rose 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 later, the Williams family move in from America. While husband Matt is thrilled with the house, his wife Jennifer and dementia-ridden mother Emma feel uncomfortable. Jennifer is quickly consumed by the curse. Matt returns home to find the house trashed, Emma upset, and his wife dying. Matt 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 after her first encounter with Kayako, and summons the police, including Detective Nakagawa. Nakagawa and his partner Igarashi explore the house, finding the bodies of Matt and Jennifer in the attic along with a bottom jaw. Matt's sister Susan disappears after being followed and attacked by Kayako, and Alex is killed when visited by a Kayako-possessed Yoko without a lower jaw. 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 as she drags herself down the stairs and crawls 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 as the camera circles to reveal her wide staring eye.
- Sarah Michelle Gellar as Karen Davis, an exchange student
- Jason Behr as Doug McCarthy, Karen's boyfriend, who attends the University of Tokyo
- William Mapother as Matt Williams, who relocates to Tokyo for a promotion
- Clea DuVall as Jennifer Williams, Matt's wife
- KaDee Strickland as Susan Williams, Matt's younger sister
- Grace Zabriskie as Emma Williams, Matt's mother, who suffers from severe lethargy with mild dementia.
- Bill Pullman as Peter Kirk, a teacher working in Tokyo
- Rosa Blasi as Maria Kirk, Peter's wife.
- Ted Raimi as Alex, the director of the care centre where Yoko and Karen are stationed.
- Ryo Ishibashi as Det. Nakagawa, a detective
- Yoko Maki as Yoko, a Japanese care worker assigned to care for Emma Williams.
- Yuya Ozeki as Toshio Saeki, Kayako and Takeo Saeki's eight-year-old son.
- Takako Fuji as Kayako Saeki, a married woman who is attracted to Peter Kirk
- Takashi Matsuyama as Takeo Saeki, Kayako's husband
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.
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.
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 was released on VHS, 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 US 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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