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Film review: Grudge, The

Jason Behr and Sarah Michelle Gellar star in "The Grudge."
Jason Behr and Sarah Michelle Gellar star in "The Grudge."
Kenji Takeuchi, Columbia Pictures

"The Grudge" sounds creepy. It's full of all kinds of creaks, shrieks, gurgles, howls, yowls, and some of the wettest, most disturbing sounds ever heard in a film.

The rest, however, is a completely different matter.

While this remake of the 2000 Japanese horror hit "Ju-On" gets the atmosphere right, its plotting is often eye-rolling silly, especially the "shocking" ending.

And considering that it's made by "Ju-On's" director, Takashi Shimizu, it's hard to say what's been lost in the translation. (Utah audiences will be able to compare when "Ju-On" comes to the Broadway Centre Cinemas next week.)

Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as Karen, an American exchange student volunteering for a care center. She's been assigned a new patient, Emma (Grace Zabriskie), whose earlier caretaker went missing.

Karen is appalled to find Emma's house in shambles. But she's even more horrified to discover an undeniably evil presence there.

After the police find the body of the missing woman, as well as the corpses of her son and daughter-in-law (William Mapother and Clea DuVall), Karen realizes she is lucky to have survived an encounter with the presence. But that presence isn't done with her yet. And her boyfriend (Jason Behr) and others she's met or talked to about what she saw may also be targeted.

The film's main concept, that extreme emotional disturbances can linger on in a house and take on a life of their own, is an interesting one. But Stephen Susco's screenplay is filled with easy contrivances that take away from that. And surprisingly, Shimizu isn't able to sustain consistent tension. Often, scenes drag on and become boring.

It doesn't help that Gellar seems to be going through the motions here. And she has virtually no chemistry with Behr, who provides a negligible presence. The one performance that really registers is Japanese actor Ryo Ishibashi, as the detective investigating the case.

"The Grudge" is rated PG-13 for scenes of horror violence and terror (spectral attacks, drownings and a suicide), some brief graphic gore and some brief sexual contact. Running time: 96 minutes.


E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com