It’s said that misery loves company: so, apparently, do dead people. There’s no other reason I can think of for their burning desire to kill off as many bystanders as possible, with a plethora of dramatic effects.
I can imagine it’s not a bundle of laughs hanging around in the afterworld when you can’t stand up, there’s no alcohol, and you’re dressed for all eternity in your shift. And while I can share the selfish notion that if I’m miserable, I want to make everyone else miserable too, I don’t think I’d go quite as far as these ghosts. They’re quite determined to scare people half to death then kill them the rest of the way, whereas I’d probably be content to drift around in white making “WoooooWooooo” noises.
Questions of ethereal excess aside, however, I have to say that this film is a great improvement on the first Grudge. The story is constructed in a much more accessible fashion, with five episodes, featuring five different characters, dovetailing nicely. Where the previous film seemed undecided about its direction, this one lays it out clearly. Some viewers might consider this a negative, but I enjoy a film more when I can follow the story.
I’m still puzzled, though, about the title. After all, the grudge held by the ghosts is supposedly only available to those who die while consumed with rage, and I’d have to say that the vengeful ghosts here were consumed only by fear. Perhaps being dead for a while gave them a good run-up into being very angry, because they’re certainly going at it now. Everyone who comes across their path seems doomed, aside from one victim. She does die, of course, but events thereafter hint that death may be more of an interruption in her social life than the catastrophe it might otherwise be.
There’s one scene that does provide a nasty jolt, for a number of reasons. I won’t describe it, because that would give away too much, but it reminds me of a bizarre Danish series called The Kingdom. There’s a point where too much gynaecological impossibility is definitely too much, and both this film and the Danish series vault well past that point.
I know I gave the first movie a bit of a caning, perhaps undeservedly. But this one looks much better. And, as an added inducement, there’s more scaring-people-to-death. Just don’t visit a hospital for a while…