In order to keep the mood on the set light, the actors and director would often joke around and attempt to frighten one another. This included a Karaoke session performed by director Takashi Shimizu on Arielle Kebbel's birthday.
The first film omitted the subplot involving the three schoolgirls which was present in the original Ju-on: The Grudge (2002). The subplot was resurrected for this film (Misako Uno's character is even named Miyuki, just like one of the girls in the original film).
On the "Columbia" logo screen before the feature, the standard logo appears normal for a moment, then the hair grows and the Columbia statuette turns to Kayako as the word "Columbia" changes to "Grudge 2." The screen flashes for a moment as this happens.
Director Takashi Shimizu went to Los Angeles to meet with producers Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi in a small office at Columbia Pictures. The purpose was to develop a story outline for the sequel's first draft, which also involved employees from Tapert and Raimi's production company Ghost House Pictures, producer Takashige Ichise, and writer Stephen Susco. According to Tapert, the session was roughly seven or eight hours of people suggesting ideas for the story.
In a deleted scene, Aubrey finds a man playing peek-a-boo seemingly with no one on the subway, with it revealed that he was actually playing with Toshio. This is a reference to the original Ju-on: The Grudge (2002), which featured the same actor playing peek-a-boo with Toshio.
A rare feat for a horror franchise, Takashi Shimizu had directed every single film in the series including the Japanese originals until he was replaced in The Grudge 3 (2009) by Toby Wilkins; he did however remain as producer.
Masanobu Yada, who plays a customer of Kayako's mother looking for an exorcism, also appeared in Rasen (1998), a sequel to Ringu (1998), which featured another iconic antagonist Sadako Yamamura. Both franchises would eventually cross over in Sadako vs. Kayako (2016).
Kayako's mother, Nakagawa Kawamata, is an Itako, who are known in Japanese culture as blind Japanese exorcists that feed the evil spirits that they remove from the victim to another vessel. This is why her character in the film never makes eye contact with Aubrey when they meet.
The original Japanese films kept the backstory of Kayako and her family relatively vague, with all of the details being implied. Takashi Shimizu said this was intentional and wished to keep it that way for the American remakes. However, studio interference is what lead to Shimizu begrudgingly giving Kayako a backstory in this film and introducing her mother. One idea was that Kayako would have a twin sister, which Shimizu vehemently rejected. The Grudge 3 (2009) would introduce Kayako's sister Naoko, though they aren't twins.
Director Takashi Shimizu spoke of the film in an interview with Sci Fi Wire: "For The Grudge 2, I was going for this mystery that was never there in The Grudge, and I think that's going to fulfill the audience. ... There's a secret about Kayako's childhood life, so that's part of the big mystery. And the other mystery is this grudge will never stop, and it's going to ... spread. And how is it going to get spread? That's another mystery."
In another press interview on if the film is a remake, Takashi Shimizu said: "The Grudge was a complete remake of Ju-on, meaning the storyline was very similar. Basically, it's the same. But Grudge 2 is actually different from Ju-on: The Grudge 2, and I don't think I would have accepted this job if it was going to be the same storyline. And because it was a different story, you know, my motivation was a bit higher, and I actually enjoy doing this."
Sony employed various marketing techniques to promote the film. On April 1, 2006, a teaser site was launched with details revealing the October 13 release date. Many forum sites such as IMDb were swamped with claims that Sony was playing an April Fool's joke. A few days later, the site's authenticity was proven, and claims that it was a hoax were proven as false.
On September 10, 2006, a month before the theatrical release, Sony released a missing persons file on its official blog, stating a student filmmaker known as "Jason C" (Jason Cutler) disappeared a few weeks after visiting the set of the film. The blog originally broadcast interviews with the film's stars including Amber Tamblyn, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jenna Dewan but has been taken over by his roommate who filed the report.
On September 19, 2006, Yahoo! Movies was the first site to release three short films titled "Tales from the Grudge" with an introduction from one of the producers of The Grudge (2004), Sam Raimi. The series of short expands on the story of the Saeki curse. The shorts also appear on the film's official site Sony Pictures Entertainment; fans who volunteered their mobile phone number received surprise calls from Kayako or Toshio. The films also became available on other film and horror-related websites as part of a wide-reaching and unique digital marketing strategy. The short films were directed by Toby Wilkins, who'd go on to direct The Grudge 3 (2009).
The film underperformed below expectations, and grossed $39.1 million in North America, making it the first ever film to open over $20 million yet gross less than 50% of its earnings after opening weekend. It also easily set the record for lowest gross of a $20 million opener.
When Karen runs through the hospital she freezes in terror as a group of doctors and nurses just stare at her. If you look closely at the crowd as the camera moves over their faces you can see the blurry figure of Kayako staring at her from afar.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In the original Ju-on: The Grudge (2002), Rika (Megumi Okina) actually dies at the film's conclusion at the hands of Takeo Saeki. The ending was drastically changed for this film's predecessor, in which her remake incarnation, Karen, survives (she does however die in this film). It was restored for this film, although the circumstances surrounding this death occurred differently, in which Aubrey adopts this death scene instead.
SERIES TRADEMARK: [bathtub death scene] (at around 1h 30 mins) Toshio attacks and drowns Trish in the bathtub, just like Detective Nakagawa was drowned by Takeo in The Grudge (2004) and Brenda by Kayako in The Grudge 3 (2009).
Chronologically speaking, Aubrey's story takes place first, then Allison's, and then Jake's. Aubrey's story takes place immediately after the first film's events in 2004. After her death, Allison's part of the story happens two years later in 2006, and her and the schoolgirls encounter Toshio and Aubrey's ghost in the Saeki home (though at that point in the film, the audience is led to believe it's Kayako's ghost). After the other schoolgirls Vanessa and Miyuki die, Allison moves back to America and unintentionally takes the curse with her, and this leads to Jake's segment of the story, set a few months after the events that happened back in Japan with Allison. They're revealed to be living in the same apartment and his family become victim to the curse.
SERIES TRADEMARK: [Ripped Off Jaw] Kayako rips off Yoko's jaw in the first film. In the deleted epilogue, Ms. Davis encounters Kayako's journal among her daughter's belongings, sent to her from Japan after their deaths. Afterwards, Kayako rips her jaw off by ejecting herself from her mouth. In The Grudge 3 (2009), Kayako kills Gretchen by gouging out her eyes and ripping her jaw off.
In a deleted epilogue, Ms. Davis is sent a box containing the belongings of her dead daughters Karen and Aubrey. Kayako's journal is mysteriously included among them, and the scene ends with her coughing up a giant ball of hair with Kayako's visible eye, ripping off her jaw. This scene was ultimately cut after it was deemed too similar to Yoko's death in the first film.
When Aubrey pays a visit to Kayako's mother, we see the latter, through her barely working eyes, suddenly witnessing Kayako's spirit taking the place of Aubrey, who comes and kills her. This is a foreshadowing for the ending, where Kayako does the same to Aubrey after she is nearly killed by Takeo.
A deleted scene from the original script was supposed to have Eason open the closet of the Saeki home to find Allison inside, with both being shocked at seeing each other, in some sort of time warp. This scene was ultimately written out as it would have caused more confusion on the timeline of the three interconnected stories.
Body Count: 15 - Karen Davis, Aubrey Davis, Ms. Davis, Eason, Vanessa, Miyuki, Allison, School Counselor, Kayako's Mother, Lacey, Sally, Bill, Trish, and Allison's Parents. Jake is the only main character to survive the events of the film. Allison's parents are revealed to have been killed by Kayako in the unrated cut, while Ms. Davis is shown to have been killed by Kayako in a deleted scene.