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The Grudge (2004)

Updated on May 4, 2014


The Grudge' was the Hollywood adaptation of the Japanese horror movie, 'Ju-on: The Grudge' . Released in October' 2004, it was directed by Takashi Shimizu, the same man behind the success of the already popular 'Ju-on' series in Japan.

Specifically, 'The Grudge' is the remake of the 3rd film in the Ju-on franchise i.e. 'Ju-on: The Grudge', released in 2002.

The Grudge describes a curse from Japanese folklore that when someone dies in the grip of extreme rage or extreme sorrow, it essentially remains at the place of the person's death and like a virus, touches and consumes anybody without exception in its vicinity.

Shot entirely in Tokyo, the film revolves around 3 distinct timelines - one surrounding Sarah Michelle Geller's character, Karen; one surrounding the American family who moved to the cursed house and the 3rd surrounding the American professor, Peter Kirk (played by Bill Pullman) - the common link between the 3 being the ghosts of the Saeki family consisting of the father, Takeo Saeki (played by Takashi Matsuyama), the son, Toshio Saeki (Yuza Ozeki) and the vengeful ghost of the mother, Kayako Saeki (Takako Fuji) and their house in suburban Tokyo where Takeo killed his wife and son and the son's cat before committing suicide in a fit of rage.

The Grudge (2004) - Tralier

Opening Scenes

During the opening scene, it is shown that Peter Kirk (Pullman) after waking up on what seems like another ordinary morning in Tokyo, looks strangely across the distance from his apartment's balcony and then suddenly jumps many floors down to his death - the incident being witnessed in shock by his wife, Maria Kirk (played by Rosa Blasi).

The film's main protagonist, Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Geller) is an international student at a university in Tokyo and lives with her boyfriend, Doug (Jason Behr) who's also a student at the same university and works part-time at a local restaurant as a waiter. Like her course-mate, Yoko (played by Yoko Maki), Karen is training to be an aged-care helper to get social-studies credit.

Yoko is the usual carer for Emma Williams (played by Grace Zabriskie), the near-catatonic and lethargy-stricken mother of Matthew and Susan Williams (played by William Mapother and KaDee Strickland ). It is soon shown during a flashback that Susan helped her brother, mother and sister-in-law, (Matthew's wife, Jennifer - played by Clea DuVall) move to Tokyo and move into the cursed house from the USA after Matthew was promoted by his company back home. The Williams family is actually the first to move into that house since the Saeki murders 3 years ago.

During Yoko's routine visit to the house where she's supposed to look after Emma, she hears strange noises coming from the Attic and goes upstairs to check it out. Yoko's then soon killed by Kayako in the attic (her lower jaw bitten off and thrown clear as shown later in the film).


Entry of Karen Davis

Upon realizing that Yoko's gone missing, Karen's boss, Alex (played by Ted Raimi) hires Karen to fill in for her and sends her to the house. During Karen's visit, she realizes the extent till which Emma suffers from lethargy and dementia but it doesn't take long for her to realize that something's not right in the house. After hearing noises upstairs, Karen encounters the ghost of Toshio and his pet cat (both of whom she found locked up in a cupboard) and briefly has a conversation with the boy who just tells her his name and nothing more - Karen also discovers a journal (which is later revealed to be Kayako's where she's written her memoirs). Soon after that, while Karen's putting Emma to bed, she realizes that Emma's extremely disturbed and is apparently talking to 'someone'. Emma's soon killed in a state of shock after the ghost of Kayako appears off her bedroom's ceiling and comes face to face with Karen for the first time.

After Karen reports Emma's death, Alex soon comes to her aid along with the police (the chief detective Nakagawa played by Ryo Ishibashi) who along with his colleague checks every inch of the house including the attic (They discover the bodies of Emma's son and daughter-in-law along with a broken lower jaw, which is shown later belonging to Yoko during the scene in which she kills Alex at the care-centre).


The Williams Family

The film then flashes back to give some more introduction to the Williams family. It is shown that Susan Williams (KaDee Strickland) resides and works in Tokyo and helped her brother, mother and sister-in-law find the house and move in. The family's moved to Tokyo due to Matthew being promoted by his employer back in the United States. While inspecting the house with a real-estate agent, Emma's shown to be extremely uneasy in the house ever since stepping in and is shown to constantly keep looking towards the attic. The real-estate agent who's present during the inspection is also briefly attacked by Toshio's spirit through a bath-tub filled with water (symbolizing that he was drowned there) although the agent mentions nothing about the incident and as the family settles in, Matthew's wife Jennifer (Clea DuVall) is also shown to be getting increasingly uncomfortable during her stay. Soon, both Matthew and Jennifer are killed by Toshio (their bodies being discovered in the attic by the cops as explained above) and Susan is killed in her apartment by Kayako (after being haunted by her spirit in her office).


Karen's further involvement into the Saeki family and Peter Kirk

Karen decides to conduct some online research based on Toshio and reads about the murders that happened 3 years ago. She then discovers that Bill Pullman's character, Peter Kirk threw himself off his building only a day after the Saeki murders took place. Karen visits Peter's widow, Maria Kirk (Rosa Blasi) and asks if she could check out any of their photographs - while scanning the photographs, Karen discovers that Peter was actually being constantly stalked by Kayako and was documenting her obsession with Peter in her memoirs. Peter's a teacher at Toshio's school which is where Kayako saw him. Karen shares this information with detective Nakagawa who then reveals that the killings in that house (including the murders of the Williams family members) are all connected to the vengeful curse or 'the grudge' of Kayako - which was set in motion after she was killed. Nakagawa then decides to burn the house down hoping it would lift the curse but is instead killed by Takeo Saeki who drowns him in the bath-tub where he drowned his son Toshio and the family pet-cat.


Closing scenes

Karen's boyfriend, Doug (Jason Behr) stumbles upon Karen's research and decides to go to the house himself. Shocked at this, Karen races to the house and then is drawn into an alternate timeline which shows her the full account of Peter Kirk's visit to the house (incidentally on the same day the killings occurred) - Peter went to the house with the intent of confronting Kayako face to face since she'd been sending him love-letters practically everyday but runs into Toshio instead. He is soon horrified to discover the bodies of Kayako and Takeo and realizes that he was communicating with Toshio's ghost and not a real person. Peter then rushes out of the house (and apparently killed himself the next morning as shown during the film's opening scene).

As Karen comes back to her present-time, she discovers Doug being possessed by the curse and is soon killed by Kayako. As Kayako closes in on Karen for the kill, she lights the house on fire but is whisked to hospital before it can kill her During the film's closing scene, Karen identifies Doug's body and hopes that the curse has finally been put to an end by the fire - however Karen realizes that Kayako has no intention of leaving her alone when she appears behind her during the final moments of the film.


Which is your favorite Japanese horror movie?

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5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of The Grudge (2004)


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    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks FatBoy for the review ... I recently watched the DIrector's cut and the deleted scenes made the film even more scarier and disturbing...

    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 

      3 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      I saw this movie shortly after it came out and it scared the hell out of me. I’ve since seen the original Japanese one and while I think it was a better movie, Ms Geller held her end up pretty well (considering she’s not really a very good actor). Interesting review, voted up.

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks for the pin :)!

    • Richard1988 profile image


      4 years ago from Hampshire - England

      I must re-watch this film! The plot was fantastic, the whole thing was shot beautifully and I was genuinely holding my breath in some parts of the film. Great review! Pinning this :)

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks for the comment Lady_E .. by far it has to be one of the scariest movies made in recent times ... I've watched the original Japanese version and its even more atmospheric..

    • Lady_E profile image


      4 years ago from London, UK

      Great review. What I remember about this movie is just when I thought things had worked themselves out, it turned out the drama had just started....which was when the girlfriend found out the truth about her "loving" boyfriend. It was so scary to watch.

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I agree vkwok ..the Japanese versions are way more scarier and atmospheric ...

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 

      4 years ago from Hawaii

      Personally, I think the Japanese versions are better compared to their American counterparts. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hackslap profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks for the feedback guys ..yes the reason I wrote about it along with the movie is because people did get confused with the 3 storylines going back and forth ..

    • Joseph Talarczyk profile image

      Joseph Talarczyk 

      4 years ago from Guilford, Connecticut

      I don't really understand the point of reading a summary of the movie (unless it's part of a review), when you can just watch it. Nevertheless, I found myself reading this and I have to say you described each scene very nicely! It cannot be easy to describe a film like this that has so much depth and intertwined stories.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you for telling the story. Your well-presented account is enough for me. Good review!


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