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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Grudge can be found here.
When the caretaker for an elderly American lady living in Tokyo fails to show up for work, American exchange student Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is sent in her place. She arrives to find that the house has been trashed, Emma Williams (Grace Zabriskie) lying on the floor, and a young boy who calls himself Toshio (Yuya Ozeki) concealed in a taped up closet. In a series of flashbacks, it is revealed that the house has a grudge (curse) on it and that the grudge is passed onto all who enter it.
The Grudge is an American remake of Japanese writer and director Takashi Shimizu's Ju-on series. The Ju-on series includes six movies: Ju-on (aka Ju-on: The Curse) (2000) and Ju-on 2 (aka Ju-on: The Curse 2) (2000), both of which were made for Japanese TV. Ju-on (aka Ju-on: The Grudge) (2003) was made for Japanese cinematic release and followed by Ju-on 2 (aka Ju-on: The Grudge 2) (2003). Two more feature films were released in 2009: Ju-on: Kuroi shôjo (Ju-on: Black Ghost) and Ju-on: Shiroi rôjo (Ju-on: White Ghost). In 2014, the seventh Ju-on film, Ju-on: Owari no hajimari (Ju-on: The Beginning of the End), was released. There are three movies in the US Grudge series: The Grudge, followed by The Grudge 2 (2006) and the straight-to-DVD sequel, The Grudge 3 (2009).
It is explained at the beginning of the movie that,
when someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage, a curse (the grudge) is born. The grudge gathers in that place of death, and those who encounter it will be consumed by its fury.
Anyone who enters the house where the grudge dwells becomes infected with it. It's like the murders left an atmosphere in the house and, if anyone passes through it, sooner or later it's going to catch up with them.
Yes, the main character Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is based on Rika Nishina (Megumi Okina) from Ju-on . The Williams family is based on the Tokunaga family, and the Saeki family—Takeo (Takashi Matsuyama), Kayako (Takako Fuji), and Toshio (Yuya Ozeki)—are taken directly from the Ju-on movies. The subplots involving Izumi Toyama (Misa Uehara) and Rika's friend Mariko (Kayoko Shibata) have been eliminated.
The movie is set in 2004. Flashbacks of the original Saeki murders take place three years earlier.
Newspaper accounts say that Kayako Saeki was murdered by her husband Takeo, but it doesn't give many of the details. From various elements given throughout the movie, the audience is led to the conclusion that Takeo found Kayako's journal and read about her love for college professor Peter Kirk (Bill Pullman). Takeo went into a deep rage, killed Kayako, and then drowned their son Toshio in the bathtub. Takeo then hanged himself. In a deleted scene on the Director's Cut, it is explained that he had actually been killed by Kayako, having been hanged by large clumps of her long black hair that had sprouted from the ceiling.
In the opening scene, Peter is seen throwing himself from the balcony of his apartment, right in front of his wife's eyes. What follows is the story of the events that brought Peter to that point. It is implied that Peter killed himself by guilt for being the cause of the woman's murder. If so, Peter is one character that is not affected by the grudge curse, presumably because Kayako's angry ghost still demonstrated some affection for him (or his guilt and consequent death were enough to satisfy her rage). This differs from the original films, in which Kobayashi, the teacher Kayako loved and the reason she was murdered, was haunted and taken by the ghost itself.
At the start of the movie, the Williams family—Matthew (William Mapother), his wife Jennifer (Clea DuVall), and sick mother Emma—have moved to Tokyo and are living in the house where the Saeki murders took place. Matthew's sister Susan (KaDee Strickland) also lives in Tokyo and is the one who helped them find the house. Yoko is hired as a housekeeper and caretaker for Emma. When Yoko disappears, foreign exchange student Karen Davis is sent by the Care Center to take her place. Karen's boyfriend Doug (Jason Behr) is exposed when Karen frantically calls him to come over after she came upon Toshio locked in a closet. Detective Nakagawa (Ryo Ishibashi) is touched when he shows up to investigate Emma's death. College professor Peter Kirk visited the residence three years earlier, when the Saekis were still living there, because he learned that Kayako had become infatuated with him.
Kayako took the rabbit's foot from Susan's cell phone and disappeared with it. When it showed up in the bed, it was showing that Kayako was in the bed with her.
That is her death rattle, a gurgling or rattling sound made by a dying person when they lose the ability to cough or swallow. In Kayako's case, it was brought on when her husband crushed her neck. At this point, mucus builds up in the throat, and the breath must be passed through these secretions.
Karen returns to the house after getting a message from Doug saying that he's going there to look for her. When she enters the house, she starts having visions. She sees Peter Kirk with Toshio. She watches Peter as he searches the house and comes upon a stack of photos of the Saeki family, all with Kayako's face cut out of them. He finds Kayako's diary, filled with writing about her love for him. He notices a door on which all the cutouts of Kayako's face have been tacked. When he opens the door, he notices the panel in the ceiling. He opens the panel, and Kayako's body falls out. All of this is witnessed by Karen. Peter rushes from the house, leaving Karen to witness Kayako's brutal murder by her husband and the drowning of their son in the bathtub. Suddenly a hand grabs her foot. It is Doug, lying on the floor. As Karen tries to pull Doug out of the house, Kayako comes crawling down the stairs and kills Doug. Doors begin to rattle and glass to break, and some of the dead can be seen slowly advancing towards Karen. She grabs the lighter from Doug's pocket, kicks over the can of gasoline that Detective Nakagawa brought with him earlier, then tosses the lighter into the pool of gas. Everything goes up in flames as Karen comes face to face with Kayako. In the final scene, doctors are examining Doug's body in the morgue. A nurse escorts Karen down the hall. She seems to be in a daze. The doctors wonder how she survived and comment that they were at least able to save the house. Karen enters the examining room, presumably to identify Doug's body. As she pulls the sheet back, the body suddenly jumps and Kayako's hair and arm tumble over the edge of the table. Kayako's arm changes to Doug's arm. As Karen turns away, she sees Kayako standing right behind her.
Yes, the storyline of The Grudge can be confusing because it is told through a non-linear sequence of events. When watching the film, be aware that there are three stories being told. The main plot revolves around Karen Davis and her attempts to understand and then stop the curse from spreading. Kayako and Toshio's story is told in flashback to a point three years earlier when they were murdered by their father, starting the sequence of events that led to the curse taking over the Saeki house. The Williams subplot takes place three years after Kayako and Toshio's murders and overlaps Karen's story when she subs for Yuko when Yuko goes missing. Follow the subplots this way, while realizing that they aren't told in a timely order, and the movie will make more sense.
A few scenes have been added such as when Karen looks at Kayako, there is a close up of her eyes with a tear streaming down her face. When Alex sees Yoko walking in the hallway of their workplace and her face lifts up to see her lack of a jaw, we see more of that in the unrated version. When Karen is in the house and she hears a banging on the wall, she walks into the room to see Takeo hung from the ceiling and also being pushed by his son Toshio. We see Kayako's body in the closet. We see more to what exactly happened to Toshio and Kayako when Takeo killed them and Kayako crawling down the stairs is extended. A detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here.
The Grudge & The Grudge 2 Enhanced Story Presentation in chronological order.
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