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John’s Horror Corner: The Grudge 2 (2006), a worthy sequel offering fresh storytelling and more honed tactics.

January 30, 2020

MY CALL: I’m just gonna’ come out and say it… I think this sequel was better than The Grudge (2004). The tactics and storytelling felt more honed; like comparing Evil Dead 2 (1987) to Evil Dead (1981). Its greatest victory is how the storytelling style deviates from part 1. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Grudge: Well, The Grudge (2004), Ju-on: The Grudge (2002) and Ju-on: The Grudge 2 (2003) would be the best place to start; followed by The Ring (2002) and Ringu (1998), then Ju-on (2000) and Ju-on 2 (2000). There is also the second remake of The Grudge (2020).

“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.”

Picking up right where The Grudge (2004) ended, director Takashi Shimizu (Ju-on 1-2, The Grudge 1-2, Flight 7500) continues his Grudge saga with three linked stories about those unlucky enough to befall Kayako’s path. And like other direct sequels (e.g., A Nightmare on Elm Street parts 3-5, Friday the 13th parts IV-VI, Halloween I-II, Saw IV-VI), it is best watched shortly after seeing its predecessor to keep plotlines fresh.

International high schooler students Allison (Arielle Kebbel; The Uninvited), Vanessa (Teresa Palmer; Lights Out, Warm Bodies, Wolf Creek) and Miyuki visit what’s left of The Grudge (2004) house, which is clearly still haunted by the angry spirit Kayako (Ju-on 1-2, Ju-on: The Grudge 1-2, The Grudge 1-2). When a prank (against one of the girls) goes awry, the evil follows the girls after they leave the cursed house.

Across the globe in California, Aubrey (Amber Tamblyn; The Ring) travels to Tokyo to find her sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream 2, The Grudge)—hospitalized since the events of The Grudge (2004). She, too, finds herself haunted beyond the limits of the cursed house, as if she took a piece of the curse with her or, perhaps, was infected by its evil.

And in Chicago, Trish (Jennifer Beals; The Book of Eli, The Prophecy II, The Bride) moves in with her boyfriend and his kids. At about the same time, their neighbors move someone mysterious in as well.

Like its 2004 predecessor, some scenes are more effective than others. Some of the same ploys are replayed to little effect—like the “look who’s under the covers” bed gag. Likewise, the CGI of the telephone booth scene, Kayako randomly appearing in the background, and the meowing ghost child have also lost their appeal. The shots limited to Kayako’s face emerging from shadows remain very creepy, but her full body shots lack menace… unless she’s shambling down a hallway in flickering lights. I quite liked that hallway scene pursuing Sarah Michelle Gellar—which may have influenced a similar scene in Lights Out (2016).The “dark room scene” callback to The Ring (2002) was entertaining and quite creepy even if not so scary. But in terms of scariness, Kayako is no Samara (The Ring). I remain most intrigued by the milk regurgitation (and re-drinking) scene. What was that!?!

This sequel’s greatest victory is how the storytelling style (i.e., the use of several interwoven stories) deviates from the past-to-present yo-yoing narrative of the first. Sure, we’re basically just getting more of the same with new victims, but it feels different in a most welcome way. Not only that, but this sequel builds on the folklore of Kayako’s supernatural origins with Japanese occult practices, and even plays into the same theme as Freddy’s Revenge (1985) and The Ring 2 (2005). We also finally learn the origin of the croaking noise Kayako makes, and it actually makes perfect sense! I just found it annoying in part 1—but now I’ll always enjoy it more.

I’m just gonna’ come out and say it. I think this sequel was better than The Grudge (2004). The tactics and storytelling felt more honed; like comparing Evil Dead 2 (1987) to Evil Dead (1981).

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 31, 2020 11:28 am

    I kinda want to watch Grudge 2 now.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      January 31, 2020 11:30 am

      I mean, it’s not wowing or anything–just decent. But it’s a great pivot from part 1, which was also a good advancement from the Ju-on The Grudge 1-2. These four movies basically chronicle a filmmaker (he made all 4) getting better at telling the same story with different people, better tactics, and fresher storytelling.

  2. February 1, 2020 8:28 pm

    I actually liked this better than the first one. Completely agree how it seems the storytelling got better, etc. I recommend it for horror fans.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      February 2, 2020 11:33 am

      I haven’t seen them in a long time, but I’ve heard people say the same comparing his original Ju-on: The Grudge 1-2 to his own American remakes.


  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner: The Grudge 3 (2009), watchable but easily worst of the franchise (so far). | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. John’s Horror Corner: The Grudge (2020), not a reboot at all, but a jumpy popcorn sidequel with a great cast and dire atmosphere. | Movies, Films & Flix

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