It looks as if no Halloween will ever again go by without Hollywood remaking a Japanese shocker. The Grudge has one advantage over its box-office godfather, The Ring: Director Takashi Shimizu got to mastermind the Westernization of his own original template, Ju-on. Still, the mass audience the new film needs to court will find Grudge a witches' brew of elements done to better effect in Ring, all of them wrapped in a disappointingly conventional haunted-house plot that barely approaches the latter film's video-age invention. Sarah Michelle Gellar leads a troupe of American expatriates who discover that the seemingly fizzy megalopolis of Tokyo is actually a shadow realm of angry ghosts and undying hatreds. (That Lost in Translation was so full of shit!) The story which probes the dark mystery of a particularly cursed abode is a flashback-heavy affair that's more slow than suspenseful; the movie is prone to take its sweet time laying the groundwork for "gotchas" that often prove sadly anticlimactic. The most laudable exceptions are some authentically unsettling sequences that have a creepy Japanese kid showing up at the most inopportune moments and in the weirdest places to annoy the helpless Occidentals. Of course, you the Floridian entertainment consumer can have that kind of experience by visiting the attractions on any given day. But seeing the movie is cheaper.
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