Updated: Nov 12, 2019
Nominee #19 - The Grudge (2004)
A supernatural curse which drives a person into a rage and kills them reaches a young American nurse working in Tokyo.
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Writers: Stephen Susco , Takashi Shimizu
Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, Clea DuVall
Three premises of The Grudge (2004) make it horrifying even before you walk into the theatre.
First, emotion – not merely event - as source of horror.
Second, that the emotion could be something as everyday as rage or sorrow.
Third, that the consequences are eternal, if experienced at the time of death and outliving death itself.
Remember the Japanese tagline: you can’t escape, even if you die!
The movie goes for the jugular, shunning plot and character depth in favour of sheer shock and foreboding. Those promo lines are more than fulfilled in the movie: it never forgets, it never forgives.
When one of the protagonists, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar is showering. She turns with the back of her head to the camera and as she scrubs her scalp and her strands of wet hair, we see decaying hands clenched just above her skull.
And hair is a recurring motif. Another scene has hair spilling down from the ceiling in such a mass that it weighs down on Gellar, eventually revealing the spiteful dead girl.
Some writers have referred to it as the ‘death rattle’
Yet another scene has KaDee Strickland haunted by that unforgettable slow growling sound as she’s alone in a building – hounded through corridors, the staircase. Even as the security guard finds nothing unusual, Strickland’s close look at CCTV camera live footage tells her that there’s a dark blob growing into the girl walking toward her. Strickland drops her phone in horror, locks herself in a room, climbs into bed and covers herself with a blanket. Then beneath that very blanket she finds the dead girl growling until Strickland is sucked into nothingness.
The Grudge is the Japanese-American remake of the Japanese film Ju-on: The Grudge. Takashi Shimuzu directed both. Producer Sam Raimi’s brother Ted Raimi plays the head of the care centre where Gellar works. The movie was so successful that it spawned sequels. But it was never more horrifying than when the entity was first born out of a spirit killed mid-rage, haunting and killing anyone who encounters it.
The sound that the entity makes is truly unique and has to be heard in the theatre to be experienced in all its horror. Some writers have referred to it as the ‘death rattle’.