Directed by Takashi Shimizu
Produced by Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert & Taka Ichise
Written by Stephen Susco
Director of Photograpy Hideo Yamamoto
Music by Christopher Young
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, Bill Pullman, Ted Raimi & Ryo Ishibashi

2004/98 mins/Color/5.1 Dolby Digital
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1

Review from the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD

DVD "Double Dipping", that is, the practice of releasing a particular title more than once, has become so common that I've read comments from DVD collectors who don't buy DVDs immediately anymore, as they now choose to wait and see if a different and better edition will come out sometime in the future. Yet, this doesn't deter home video companies from presenting titles in various incarnations. THE GRUDGE may have set a record for fastest double-dip, as the film debuted on DVD February 1, 2005, and a second edition arrives on May 17, 2005. Now that's fast!

(For my complete thoughts on THE GRUDGE, please see my review for the previous DVD release.

This new release of THE GRUDGE is an unrated director's cut of the film, which runs some 7 minutes longer. While it was impossible for me to do a complete side-by-side comparison of the two cuts of the movie, I did manage to pin-point some of the major differences.

-- 24:15 mark -- There is additional footage of Suasan (KaDee Strickland) exploring the house and examining a closet. This runs about 1 minute.

-- Chapter 11 -- The camera lingers on the jawbone for about 6 seconds, compared to about 2 in the PG-13. It's now possible to tell exactly what we're looking at.

-- Chapter 17 -- The camera stays on the face which is missing the jawbone for some 7 seconds, compared to about 2 seconds in the theatrical cut.

-- Chapter 26 -- The reveal of Kayako's (Takako Fuji) corpse is longer and more graphic.

-- Chapter 27 -- When Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) "sees" the murders which occurred in the house, the images are longer and more graphic -- 76 seconds vs. 42 seconds. We get to see how Kayako was murdered. And my favorite shot from JU-ON 2 is re-created here in a new scene. Following that, we get a completely new flashback (28 seconds) in which Karen witnesses more carnage in the house.

This new director's cut isn't very different from the PG-13 version, as the story remains the same. And yet, with the inclusion of a few "human" touches and the increased gore and violence, this version feels more honest. This cut comes much closer to capturing the feel of the original Japanese films, as it shows that Shimizu doesn't pull any punches. Not to imply that gore equals higher quality, but the film becomes more intense with the added visceral edge. No matter what, THE GRUDGE is still a pale imitation of JU-ON, but it is proof that remakes can be enjoyable.

THE GRUDGE: DIRECTOR'S CUT crawls done the stairs onto DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. This may be my imagination, but I think that this transfer looks better than the transfer on the first DVD release, which was plagued by noticeable grain at times. This new DVD sports a look which is sharp and clear showing less grain. The image is well-balanced and is never too dark. But, there are several scenes in which horizontal lines, especially blinds, create a great deal of video noise. The colors look good and edge-enhancement is scarcely noticeable. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which offers clear dialogue and sound effects. The subwoofer effects on this track are very good and certainly add to the film, as does the surround sound action, especially when that familiar throaty "Ju-on" sound fills the speakers.

This new DVD release contains many new extra features. We start with an audio commentary from director Takashi Shimizu, producer Taka Ichise, and actress Takako Fuji. The commentary is in Japanese and features nice, yellow subtitles. This is an amusing commentary, as Shimizu makes many remarks comparing Hollywood to the Japanese style of filmmaking and pointing out things that he was asked to change or alter. The speakers do a good job of relating tales about the making of the film and commenting on which facets of the movie were influenced by the American producers. The best part of this DVD are the 15 "Deleted Scenes" which run for nearly 30 minutes. Some of these scenes are completely new, but most are parts of existing scenes. Many focus on character development or incidentals (it is interesting to note that we learn the realtor who sold the house died), but there are three new "horror" scenes which are quite nice. The DVD contains five featurettes, none of which are that great. "The 'Grudge' House: An Insider's Tour" (4 minutes) is merely footage from the set (shot with a video camera) which is intercut with clips from the film to remind us which scenes occurred in that particular room. "Sights and Sounds: The Storyboard Art of Takashi Shimizu" (3 minutes) is simply a look at the storyboards for the finale with the audio from that scene playing simultaneously. "Production Designer's Notebook: The Sketches of Iwao Saito" (2 minutes) is exactly what it sounds like -- nicely drawn pictures of the sets and locations. In "Sarah Michelle Gellar's Video Diary" (9 minutes), SMG wanders around a train station interviewing members of the crew. This is followed by behind-the-scenes footage of Gellar shooting a scene on a train. "KaDee Strickland's Video Diary" (13 minutes) is different in that someone follows Strickland around Tokyo with a video camera, as she takes a tour of the city. The extras are finished off with two short films from Shimizu, "4444444444" (3 minutes) and "In a Corner" (3 1/2 minutes). Both are clearly connected to THE GRUDGE universe, but we are told why these were made, or where they were shown.

Given the fact that this DVD contains a different cut of THE GRUDGE and totally different extras, this is one occasion where fans of the movie may have to double-dip. Actually, this new disc compliments the prior release, and I don't know why Sony didn't make a two-back boxed set available.





This Film Features:

Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©