Take Two

by Luke Bumgarten & r & & r & The Grudge 2 (save your money) & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & was going to use this opportunity to have a very serious and very philosophical discussion with you all. I wanted to discuss the vitally important role strict rules play in successful horror flicks. I wanted to then parlay that into a argument on why horror sequels are doomed to failure, almost by definition -- or if not by definition, then at least by dint of our movie-going culture.

But honestly, I can get on my soapbox and caterwaul like that any time. It's not even hard for me. Ask my colleagues. I have opinions about things I have no earthly right having an opinion on. (I think a certain person, for example, is making a big mistake with the Grizzly Adams thing he's doing. Hair running unchecked all over his face.) So I'm going to spare you all that -- the how-to-fix-horror spiel, not the beard thing, for which there is no escape and certainly no quarter.

I mean, why would I want to fix the Grudge 2? I wouldn't and I don't. Under any circumstances. I loved the predictable repetition of writer/director Takashi Shimizu's utilitarian camera, the absurd motivations, the blatant fetishism (schoolgirl upskirts, spontaneous urination and more!). I seriously could have handled playing Where's Waldo? with Toshio, the dead kid who meows like a cat, for the whole 90 minutes.

Unfortunately, Shimizu only gives us 70 minutes of the little guy -- so cute, all pasty and naked, curled up in the fetal position, locked in an earthly hell of his mother's creation. So long as he was onscreen, it was easy to pretend I was enjoying myself. Shimizu's camera would jerkily scan a room and I'd try to figure out if little Toshio was going to be crouching under that coffee table, in that cupboard or stuffed in that hamper, a single sock dangling off his cute, milky-white pug nose.

What a stinker, that kid. Always killing but not really explaining why (besides "rage," which is dumb) -- so I made up motivations for him. Little Toshio is always meowing and cozying up next to some lucky lady to share body heat. Or maybe share a moment. Yeah. He wants to ask someone to the harvest dance, but he can't, since all he can do is meow like a kitty. And then, just when his nerves die down, the cat thing goes away and he's about to address a girl in his awkward little primary school way, Mom swoops down and murders the girl. With her hair. Weak mom, Junior's lookin' to get his. Now I understand him.

I can see her perspective, too, of course -- these little tarts putting themselves into situations where he's going to want to ball up next to their ankles. They're asking for it. Seriously.

Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Gellar) catalyzes the film by trying to burn down the cursed house from the first film, which apparently mean all bets are off. Burning down a demon's house seems to mean he can get at anyone from anywhere at any time. Doesn't exactly cause suspense, knowing that everyone will inevitably die, but whatever. I'm not worried about suspense when I get to watch a girl -- who has no discernable connection to the Grudgies (as I call them), other than to live in the same apartment complex as some cursed peeps -- drink a half gallon of milk and then puke it back up into the carton (one fetish I forgot in the list above). Dope, somebody's going to have a real bad cereal experience. Almost as bad a cereal experience as the movie experience I just had. Almost.