31 horror movies in 31 days: The Grudge

Unknown-1   “When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage… a curse is born. The curse gathers in that place of death. Those who encounter it will be consumed by its fury.”

And so the film begins, as we are forced to watch the handsome Bill Pullman throw himself off his balcony, while in a possessed stupor.

Cut to: A beautiful young lady named Yoko, who arrives at a house, sent by the local care center, to take care of an elderly American lady named Emma. Upon arrival, she finds Emma asleep and no one else home. After she begins to clean up, she hears weird noises in one of the bedrooms upstairs. She traces the noises to the closet. She is quickly sucked in by some force, never to be heard from again.

Cut to: Karen, an American that lives with her boyfriend and is in Tokyo to attend university, also works for the local care center. She is given the case file of Emma, after Yoko mysteriously disappears.

Upon her arrival, she finds the house trashed, a picture of a Japanese family with the face of the wife cut out, and the distressed sound of a cat crying from an upstairs bedroom. After following the sounds, she sees a closet haphazardly taped up. After she rips off the tape, she finds a young boy holding a cat, with a diary lying at his feet.

Once downstairs, she talks to the boy and finds out that his name is Toshio. Then upon checking on Emma, she is met with a terrifying entity that leaves her in a paralyzed state and eventually kills Emma.

Cut to: A flashback, when Emma, her son Matthew, and her daughter-in-law Jennifer walk through the house. Despite the realtor’s hesitations, they agree to buy the house. As an American overseas, left alone to take care of her ill mother-in-law, Jennifer desperately tries to fit in to her new environment. Eventually, she begins hearing weird noises in the house, specifically from her upstairs bedroom. A few hours later, her husband returns from work, to find Jennifer in a terrified state, barely able to breathe. He then hears the sounds of a small child running back and forth, unable to see anyone…until the child chooses to show himself.

Cut to: Real time. The police find Karen cowering in the corner, Emma’s dead body nearby. After searching the house, they find Jennifer and Matthew’s dead bodies in the attic, blood drained from then and holding each other.

Cut to: Matthew’s sister Susan, who also lives in Tokyo, begins to be haunted by a mysterious entity. She has a terrifying experience at work, which follows her home. She is never heard from again.

In the meantime, as Karen lies in a hospital bed, she overhears a conversation about a murder that happened at the house 3 years ago. She takes it upon herself to do some research and finds newspaper clippings of the Saeki family. In a rage, the husband killed his wife and son, and then hung himself. She then sees a story of how the wife, Kayako, and her American professor, Peter Kirk, might be related.

As soon as she is released from the hospital, she goes to visit Peter’s wife, who shows her a shoebox filled with photos. The one thing Karen notices is how Kayako is in the background of every single picture. Stalking Peter. Following him everywhere he goes.

Cut to: In a very weird series of flashbacks and real time events, Karen witnesses when Peter goes to Kayako’s house to check up on her. There he finds Toshio, badly bruised. Peter is sure that Toshio can see someone else in the house, and Karen is convinced that Peter can see her standing there…yet years apart.

Confused yet?

Afterwards, in real time, lead Detective Nakagawa tells Karen about the curse set upon the house, because of the murder-suicide. The whole house is filled with evil residual energy that will never die, and will haunt everyone that comes in contact with it. After putting 2 and 2 together, Karen realizes what is really going on. After receiving a frantic phone call from Doug, her boyfriend, Karen rushes back to the house, trying to prevent him from the curse. After she arrives, the whole murder scene plays before her in black and white – she learns of Kayako’s crush on Peter, how that love was unrequited, when her husband finds out about her crush by reading her diary, the fit of rage that caused him to kill her by breaking her neck, drowning Toshio, then eventually hanging himself in a bedroom…every gory detail.

After witnessing the tormented spirit of Kayako kill Doug, Karen realizes the only way to end this circle of death is to burn the house down to the ground.

In the final scene, we see two spirits survived the fire. Can you guess which ones?

Rating: 4.8 out of 5

Recommendation: Ok, this one freaked me out for sure. Between the visuals and the sound effects, I was creeped out of my skin. And that hasn’t happened since The Exorcist. There is something to say about a flick that continues to make your skin crawl after several viewings. I was filled with goose bumps the whole 90 minutes. The story line can be a bit confusing, because it’s told in past and present tense, lots of flopping around, but it all eventually makes sense. This may be the most epic anti-adultery movie to date. Fatal Attraction ain’t got nothing on this flick!


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