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An ancient supernatural spirit wreaks murderous vengeance on anyone coming within its powerful gripof rage in this terrifying tale of horror.
For more about The Grudge and the The Grudge Blu-ray release, see the The Grudge Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 13, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, William Mapother, Clea DuVall, KaDee Strickland, Grace Zabriskie
Director: Takashi Shimizu
» See full cast & crew
The Grudge Blu-ray Review
This Blu-ray release of 'The Grudge' offers fans solid picture, sound, and supplements.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 13, 2009
The whole time I was in that house, I felt something was wrong.
The Grudge and The Ring began what has become an irksome-at-best and loathsome-at-worst fad of remaking Asian Horror films for the U.S. audience, and the truth is that few of them really work. Offering up little more than cheap thrills, loud musical cues, and split-second flashes of odd-looking characters that move like some sort of animatronic doll just doesn't cut it anymore and, subjectively speaking, never really did. The Grudge is often hailed as one of the better of the bunch, but considering its dull performances, barely cohesive plot, and sluggish pace, one must wonder what it is about the film that earned it $110,000,000 at the domestic box office? Perhaps it was the novelty of the experience or a trailer chock-full of the above-referenced cheap scares that punctuate the film, but either way, The Grudge wears out its welcome rather quickly and devolves into a movie that offers nothing of substance, save for the opportunity for a good nap.
American Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Southland Tales) and her boyfriend Doug (Jason Behr) have traveled to Japan to continue in their studies. Karen works as a social worker and is assigned to care for a disabled elderly American woman, a task that seems easy enough, except for the fact that the previous caretaker has mysteriously vanished. When Karen and her patient witness the presence of a frightening specter, the film flashes backwards and, later, again, forwards in time to reveal not only how the woman came to live in the house but how it and its occupants came to be hexed under an ancient -- and deadly -- Japanese curse.
The potential for a better movie is present throughout The Grudge. Part Ghost story, part Mystery, and part Horror film, it takes several intriguing concepts but never manages to tie them together in a coherent and accessible tale. The weak link in The Grudge indeed stems from its plot that seems both tedious and difficult to grasp. The film often shifts perspective, skipping between several sets of characters, not to mention timelines, that does more to confuse the story rather than solidify it. Said characters also receive precious little in the way of development, and the movie seems more interested not in its characters or even its story but instead in its atmosphere. In the film's defense, the atmosphere is generally enticing and creepy, but atmosphere alone does not a movie make. A good atmosphere goes only so far alone, and by necessity it requires a good story and characters the audience come to care for in order to truly work, and The Grudge offers neither. A few of the jump scenes do come suddenly and effectively in the context that they succeed in eliciting the desired response, and the soundtrack lends a suitably creepy sonic atmosphere to the movie. Again, though, they work only so well without a proper context.
The Grudge Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Grudge comes to Blu-ray with a bleak 1080p, 1.85:1-framed transfer. The transfer appears incredibly noisy at times, and also generally appears dreary and soft. Colors often look faded, though there is no absence of color throughout the film. From the outdoor greenery to the warm interiors, the disc sports a myriad of colors that take on a slightly dark tone that seems to reflect the nature of the film. Detail is moderately high at best; various objects scattered about many frames look nice enough, though the film seems to inherently offer a subdued look that doesn't make for a visual feast for the eyes. Blacks and flesh tones appear solidly rendered throughout. The Grudge does not appear to be a "pretty" film, but it seems this Blu-ray release captures its intended look well enough.
The Grudge Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Grudge features a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack that appropriately enhances the film's creepy atmosphere. The subtle music heard over the opening credits sequence plays with a crisp, lively presence, with a bit of information coming from the rears in support of the smooth, melodic, lifelike reproduction heard across the front. The soundtrack makes a point of creating a blood-curdling atmosphere, placing eerie sounds all over the soundstage. It's become something of a generic and terribly overused device, but it works rather well here. Bass also rumbles quite a bit with this one, much of it subtle yet effective and deep. Sound effects often travel all across the soundstage, this track making good use of every speaker in its arsenal. Some play as incredibly realistic, a cat meowing or a phone ringing off to the side, for example. Supported by strong dialogue reproduction, The Grudge makes for a solid lossless soundtrack from Sony.
The Grudge Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Fans should have no grudge with this large selection of bonus materials, headlined by a theatrical cut commentary track with Writer Stephen Susco, Producers Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, and Actors Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, Clea Duvall, Kadee Strickland, and Ted Raimi. Recorded in 2004, the track plays as lively and generally engaging, the participants sharing a good camaraderie as they discuss cultural differences, language barriers, humor from the set, shooting certain segments of the film, and more. There are several moments of silence, a surprise considering the number of participants, but fans should be satisfied with the effort. Next is an extended cut Japanese-language commentary track with Director Takashi Shimizu, Producer Taka Ichise, and Actress Takako Fuki. With the provided subtitles, fans are treated to an enthusiastic and informative track where topics of discussion include the sets, the actors' adaptations to the language barrier, changes in dialogue due to cultural differences, some of the film's popular scenes, shooting locations, and more. Fifteen deleted scenes follow the commentary tracks (480p, 33:35) with optional Japanese language (and English subtitled) commentary.
Next up is A Powerful Rage: Behind 'The Grudge', a five-part standard-definition making-of feature that includes the following segments: The Birth of 'The Grudge' (10:09), Myth of the Ju-On (11:47), Culture Shock: The American Cast in Japan (11:27), Designing 'The Grudge' House (9:22), and A New Direction: Understanding Takashi Shimizu (8:34). Moving on, viewers will find Under the Skin (480p, 12:26), a piece featuring Joseph LeDoux, Ph.D., discussing how and why effective Horror movies work. The 'Grudge' House: An Insider's Tour (480p, 3:58) takes audiences inside the set constructed for the film. Sights and Sounds: The Storyboard Art of Takashi Shimizu (480p, 3:13) showcases a series of storyboards, accompanied by music and sound effects from the film. Production Designer's Notebook: The Sketches of Iwao Saito (480p, 2:26) features a series of sketches set to music. Video Diaries allows user to view 480p behind-the-scenes video footage from Sarah Michelle Gellar (9:02) and Kadee Strickland (13:31). Ju-On Short Films allow viewers to watch both 4444444444 (480p, 2:58) and In a Corner (480p, 3:23). Finally, this set of supplements includes BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) functionality and 1080p trailers for Resident Evil: Degeneration and Zombie Strippers.
The Grudge Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Grudge represents the perfect example of a film that will work for some but not for others. While one may find the film enthralling, frightening, and well-paced, another may find it a complete drag with little in the way of structure and forgettable-at-best scares. That's one of the reasons that there are multiple studios out there that are kind (and smart) enough to deliver many varied pictures for consumption. Regardless of one's subjective opinion about the quality of the film, there is no doubt that Sony has delivered a suitable Blu-ray release for it. Although the transfer is visually uninteresting, it appears to mimic the film's intended bleak appearance. The lossless soundtrack engages from corner to corner, and the included supplements are many. Fans of The Grudge should be pleased with this release, and to them it comes with a solid recommendation.
Blu-ray bundles with The Grudge (2 bundles)
The Grudge Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Grudge Blu-ray Delayed Until May - February 20, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment have announced that they have delayed the Blu-ray release of 'The Grudge' until May 12th in order to coincide with the direct-to-video sequel 'The Grudge 3' (which presumably will come out on the same day). No technical specs or ...
• The Grudge Announced for Blu-ray - January 12, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the horror film 'The Grudge' to Blu-ray on March 24th. This Takashi Shimizu stars Sarah Michelle Gellar as a nurse who encounters a supernatural spirit that is possessing people around her. Video ...
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