It’s been a long time since a movie scene made me honestly cringe under my collar out of anxiety.
Hollywood continues its march of mediocrity by the very nature of its continued trend in recycling other films. When they’re not preoccupied with remaking their own 30 year old movies, they’re aping foreign cinema.
I’m afraid that I must land squarely in the demographic of Stupid Americans, because Ju-on didn’t work for me. Just as with sense of humor and drama, I feel that horror owes a lot to cultural influence. What may scare the socks off a Japanese crowd sometimes makes for unintentional laughter in a Yankee audience, as was the case with my experience.
That’s not to say that there weren’t some scary moments in Ju-on. Quite the contrary, actually. In fact, some of its sequences were genuinely the scariest prolonged moments of claustrophobia and psychological terror that I can remember. Think back to Rear Window and Psycho, but add ample doses of supernatural mayhem. In fact, it’s been a long time since a movie scene made me honestly cringe under my collar out of anxiety. But then, there was that occasional awkward scene that completely broke the credibility.
Not so much with Grudge. I don’t really care what this says about me, but the American remake was a better movie. For one, it didn’t break as many internal rules as Ju-on. At times, the latter was practically stream of consciousness, there was so little concrete logic. With the addition of a couple new characters, Grudge does a much better job being consistent and connecting the dots, with the exception of one dismembered body part that was never explained. This was a misstep by the U.S. producers. They leaned on that old familiar crutch: cheap gore splattered around makes for instant horror.
It seemed odd to me that they chose to keep the location in Japan. Most of the cast was American, but the locale was not. I’m not sure what the reasoning was here. Location changes worked quite well for Ring, as well as the American remake of the Norwegian Insomnia.
Also present in the remake was that bizarre sound that the ghosts make. It’s sort of like the noise someone makes when they are gasping. I was hoping that the foley artists would have improved on the sound effect for the American version, but alas they did not. Why does a ghost make such an annoying sound? Beats me, but after a while, it does have a way of creeping you out.
Still intact are those prolonged periods of shuttering horror. Both movies are great models of economy of terror. Missing in Grudge is any language barrier absurdities.