Jump scenes rule the day here. That's right, this baby is stocked with jump scenes! If you're having a hard time deciphering my complicated terminology, then let me explain that a "jump scene" is one in which something startling happens to catch you off guard and makes you jump in your seat. Some people think jump scenes are cheap ploys to get a scare from the audience, but they're really well done in this movie. And they're manufactured frequently and shrewdly enough to keep you in a constant state of unease.
Unfortunately, when most moviegoers get scared they like to scream and then laugh and talk about it for 2 minutes afterwards. If you're gonna scream then scream. But then SHUT UP and WATCH THE MOVIE! This ain't a comedy and it certainly isn't a coffeehouse, so quit killin' my atmosphere.
Some of you might be a little agitated to know that The Grudge does follow some clichéd horror movie conventions, such as a character investigating a creepy noise in a dark attic with only a cigarette lighter to illuminate the way. And of course, one character has to slowly follow a strange figure that shouldn't be there in the first place. But it's forgivable. Keep in mind, characters aren't necessarily supposed to know they're in a horror movie. I'm sure we've all explored strange noises before, except rather than a horrific, disfigured ghost producing the noise, in real life the sound is usually coming from Uncle Larry's bathroom excursion. Never underestimate the horror of a night out at the Taco Bell.
Comparisons to The Ring are inevitable, so I'll just say that I personally feel The Grudge is the creepier of the two. This is a movie that's heavy on atmosphere and freaky imagery. The Japanese ghosts creeped me out even more than the time I caught some pervert staring at me in the men's bathroom stall back in my college days. Lucky for him, he took off before I had a chance to demonstrate what happens when a person is caught in a powerful grip of rage.
But The Ring has the better story and a much better ending. The Grudge does a great job of keeping you guessing. You never really know where it's going, and since the story isn't linear you really have to pay attention. I know a lot of you have the attention span of a goldfish (about 9 seconds, you just learned something today, thank me later), so this may be problematic. I think it works fairly well, but one of my complaints is that near the end everything is wrapped up and explained rather quickly.
As a result, I wish the movie had been longer. A longer running time could've produced more in-depth character development, a more clever way to explain what was going on, and maybe even a better ending. And there's my biggest complaint. Why do so many horror movies feel the need to use the I Know What You Did Last Summer-esque "look, there's gonna be a sequel" ending? Come on, how about some closure? It's similar to if you're waiting for me to close out my review in a witty and funny fashion, but instead, for some reason I just decide to end the review in mid sent...
If you're looking for some Halloween entertainment, then The Grudge will give you some good jumps and surround you with creepy imagery. But I strongly recommend that you see it at a time when there won't be a big crowd because I know I would've enjoyed the movie a lot more had I not been surrounded by a lot of stand-up comedians who felt the need to crack jokes at the most tense and inopportune times. Folks, this is a horror movie. Tension and atmosphere are a big part of it, so please keep your laughing and talking to a minimum. I look forward to watching the DVD in peace and quiet one day where the only idiots I'll possibly be surrounded by will be friends and family.
Rating: 3.75 (out of 5)