A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, while this teen-targeted horror sequel features relatively little actual gore, the scary scenes are tense and aggressive, with loud soundtrack effects, jarring editing, and insinuated violence. There's some brief nudity (male and female characters appear in showers and bathtubs) and a scene that sets up sexual activity (a couple goes to a hotel room and begin to undress) but doesn't deliver because the ghost strikes. Ghost attacks throughout the movie are discordant and sometimes alarming. The ghosts are very creepy looking, shadows and noises establish scary spaces, and characters scream and show fear and pain repeatedly. There is some actual violence (someone is slammed with a frying pan in the first scene, and murders are referred to repeatedly), as well as lots of abstract and menacing visual references to violence: blood on the walls and on a couple of faces, a broken neck in a contorted ghost figure, and drowned bodies.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
THE GRUDGE 2 has three storylines that deal with the theme of vengeance that has shaped all of the movies in the Ju-on franchise. When Aubrey (Amber Tamblyn) learns that her sister, Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is in a Tokyo hospital, she flies to Japan to get Karen back. In addition to Aubrey's trip to Japan, the movie follows Trish (Jennifer Beals), who moves in with Bill (Christopher Cousins) and his two kids. All will suffer the effects of the Grudge curse. Trish's family arrangement repeats -- but also refracts -- that of the original Grudge family. The Japanese family appears again in grainy video images, signaling both their existence in the past and their continuing presence in a perpetual loop. Insanely jealous husband Takeo (Takashi Matsuyama) again breaks his wife's neck and drowns his young son. These original victims become the ghosts who terrorize new prey. Among these are schoolgirls Miyuki (Misako Uno), Vanessa (Teresa Palmer), and Allison (Arielle Kebbel), who come to the family's house on a dare and then pay dearly.
Is it any good?
For all its jump-out-at-you surprises, grim shadows, and anguished victims, The Grudge 2 isn't very scary. More abstract art than conventional horror cinema, it's more interested in parsing the idea of repetition and the basis and method of revenge. Rejecting formula by reconsidering formula, it is, perversely, singular.
Rethinking the very concepts of remake, sequel, and translation, director Takashi Shimizu's seventh film in the Ju-on/Grudge series is actually a series of events that must be assembled by the viewer at the end -- the events occur at different times, or maybe at the same time, but they most definitely don't occur in linear time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of revenge. Why do people want to inflict pain on and get "even" with those who they think have wronged them? Does revenge ever help you feel better, or does it just prolong the bad feelings and pain? How do Aubrey's relationships with her sister and mother suffer in the context of revenge? Families can also talk about the enduring appeal of ghost stories and their own views on whether strong emotions can continue to "occupy" a place.
- In theaters: October 13, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: February 6, 2007
- Cast: Amber Tamblyn, Jennifer Beals, Sarah Michelle Gellar
- Director: Takashi Shimizu
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature thematic material, disturbing images/terror/violence, and some sensuality.
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