DVD Release Date:  February 6, 2007
Theatrical Release Date:  October 13, 2006
Rating:  Unrated (but theatrical release was PG-13 for mature thematic material, disturbing images/terror/violence and some sensuality)
Genre:  Horror
Run Time:  108 min.
Director:  Takashi Shimuzu
Actors:  Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel, Jennifer Beals, Edison Chen, Sarah Roemer, Sarah Michelle Gellar

When Japanese director Takashi Shimuzu brought his successful horror film series, “Juon,” to the United States in 2004, few critics hailed “The Grudge” as a cinematic masterpiece.  It did receive decent reviews, however, for its ability to frighten audiences – the primary criterion by which a horror movie is judged.  “The Grudge” performed well at the box office, too. 

So it was only natural that the film’s original producers (which include Sam Raimi, director of the “Spider-Man” films) wanted to see if they could recreate the magic.  As with most sequels, however, it hasn’t happened.  Even if you liked the original “Grudge,” you probably won’t connect to this convoluted, lackluster sequel. 

“The Grudge 2” picks up where the other left off, with Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) in a Japanese hospital.  She has just tried to burn down the house where all the horrific murders occurred, in the hopes of killing off the groaning ghost Kayako (Takako Fuji) and her meowing ghost-child.  No such luck, though.  The creepsters are still alive and infuriated that they were murdered (by her husband, the kid’s father).  They’ve got a grudge, baby, and they’re taking it out on everyone, including perfect strangers.  As a matter of fact, anyone who even looks at that house – along with a few who don’t – is going to die.

At a prestigious international prep school in Tokyo, the young Allison (Arielle Kebbel) longs to be accepted by high school mean girls Vanessa (Teresa Palmer) and Miyuki (Misako Uno).  So she follows them to the haunted house where a man reportedly killed his wife, son and cat.  Yeah, cat.  ‘Cause you know a dude is really bad when he knocks off animals.  There, predictably scary things start to happen which begin a slow (and I do mean slow) countdown toward all their deaths.

Back home in the States, Karen's terminally ill mother (Joanna Cassidy) insists that her daughter Aubrey ("Joan of Arcadia's" Amber Tamblyn) go to Japan and bring back her sister Karen to Pasadena.  Karen is now under restraints in a Tokyo hospital.  They think she’s loco, but only because they can’t see the deathly pale ghosts with the wet stringy hair who are following her.  Oh, scary!  But they do kill, these ghosts, even if I can’t figure out how, since they use no weapons.  Well, actually it’s only the mother who’s offing people and making them disappear, but she does use her bare hands.  Pretty strong for a scrawny ghost who can’t have much time for working out.  Then again, maybe that is her training regimen. …

Anyway, even though the sisters are estranged, Aubrey heads to Japan.  There, she meets the journalist who pulled her sister out of the fire.  Eason (Edison Chen) has been covering this “story” for three years and has a lot of information, like all the evil, occult stuff Kayako’s mother forced her to do when she was a child.  So was it that or the murder that made her so evil?  Hmmm. … Leaving Karen’s (minute spoiler here) corpse to deal with itself, and her dying mother to wonder what has happened to her daughters, Easin and Aubrey set out to investigate.