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Film: The Grudge

Note: This page is for the American franchise only. For the Japanese series of films, see Ju-on.

The Grudge is the 2004 American remake of the Japanese film Ju On: The Grudge, with added elements from Ju On: The Curse. The film was released in North America on October 22, 2004 by Columbia Pictures, and is directed by Takashi Shimizu (director of the original series) while Sam Raimi produced and Stephen Susco scripted. In the same tradition as the original series, the plot of the film is told through a non-linear sequence of events and includes several intersecting subplots. The film has spawned two sequels: The Grudge 2 (which was released on October 13, 2006) and The Grudge 3 (released direct-to-DVD on May 12, 2009, after having the original release date pushed back), this time directed by Toby Wilkins with Shimizu as executive producer. Also, a fourth film is planned (with Shimizu supervising).

There is also a collection of short films, entitled Tales of the Grudge, which were used to promote the second film. These shorts are included on the Director's Cut edition of The Grudge 2 DVD.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Abusive Parents: Mrs. Davies is emotionally abusive towards Aubrey, clearly favouring Karen over her. Also, Kayako's mother "fed" evil spirits to her daughter when she was a child. The former's death at the latter's hands could be seen as Kayako's revenge for what her mother did to her.
  • Alpha Bitch: Vanessa.
  • Anachronic Order: As in the Japanese originals, the first two films consist of segments shown out of chronological order. The third movie follows a standard linear narrative instead.
  • And I Must Scream: The fate of every single person who is taken by the curse.
  • Anyone Can Die
  • Asshole Victim: Played with, in that most of the curse's victims are decent people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, some victims, such as Takeo (who has the dubious honour of being the curse's very first victim) and Vanessa, qualify for this trope.
  • Ax-Crazy: Takeo, after discovering his wife's diary. He remains just as violent after death.
  • Bedmate Reveal: Played with (well, sort of) in the freakiest way possible.
  • Blondes Are Evil: Probably stretching this a bit, but Vanessa is most certainly not a pleasant person. (Perhaps played a little more straight when she becomes a part of the curse.)
    • Same with the principal when she too becomes a part of the curse.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Kayako after having her neck snapped.
  • Blood Magic: Kayako's sister, Naoko, claims the curse can be lifted via an exorcism ritual that ends with a willing witness consuming Kayako's blood. It doesn't work.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Not only does poor Aubrey actually witness Karen's death, but she gets splattered with her blood as well. Ouch.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Many of the deaths in The Grudge 3 are bloodier than the deaths in the previous installments (not counting Yoko, obviously).
  • Body Horror: Similar to the original Japanese movie series, a particular type of Body Horror is used for the death of Yoko. A similar example of Body Horror is seen in the alternate/extended ending to the sequel (in which Karen and Aubrey's mother dies in a very similar way to Yoko).
    • The death of Gretchen in the third movie.
    • The brief sight of Kayako's fingers emerging from the back of Karen's head in the first movie.
  • Break the Cutie: Several characters, but most notably Allison.
  • Break the Haughty: Vanessa.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Vanessa wets herself after being menaced by Kayako in her school changing room (and who can blame her, really?).
  • Broken Bird: Peter Kirk's wife, Maria, by the time Karen seeks her out. Losing her husband in an apparent suicide was evidently not kind to her.
  • The Bully: Vanessa. Not even her fellow bully Miyuki is safe from her cruelty.
  • Calling The Old Woman Out: Towards the end of The Grudge 2, Aubrey finally tells her mother how she really feels. Sadly, it's the last time they ever speak.
  • Cassandra Truth: Dr. Sullivan doesn't believe Jake's claims that his family was killed by a curse - until Jake himself dies under unexplainable (and downright horrible) circumstances.
  • The Cast Showoff: Takako Fuji really can move like that, and has said in an interview that she sometimes likes to pull out her Kayako-moves to freak people out at parties. In addition, any scene with her crawling down the stairs was done without any wirework whatsoever.
  • Cat Scare: Considering that Toshio's pet cat is also part of the curse.
  • Chase Scene: Kayako pursuing Karen through the hospital in The Grudge 2; the former also pursuing Dr. Sullivan in The Grudge 3.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Kayako's diary, the Saeki family photo, and the photo of Peter found in Kayako's diary.
  • Chest Burster: Used in the alternate/extended ending of the second movie. Kayako ejects herself violently from Mrs. Davies' mouth.
  • Composite Character: Detective Nakagawa shares the name and profession of Detective Nakagawa from the original Ju-on film series, but his personality and actions are closer to that of retired detective Toyama, also from Ju-on. Like Toyama, he lost his colleagues to the curse, and also tries to burn the house down.
    • Yoko seems to be a combination of three Ju-on characters: Yuki and Kanna from Ju-on: The Curse, and Rika from Ju-on: The Grudge. Like Yuki, she is dragged into the house's attic by Kayako; like Kanna, her jaw is torn off; like Rika (with whom she was originally going to share a name), she is a social worker.
  • Continuity Nod: From The Grudge 2 to its prequel: "This is where the girl from the international college killed her boyfriend two years ago." There are also a few nods to the previous films in The Grudge 3.
  • Creepy Child: Toshio is the very definition of this trope. Kayako seen as a child in flashbacks is also somewhat creepy, although seriously adorable at the same time.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The death of Mrs. Davies, as seen in a deleted scene from the second film, definitely qualifies - after a tearjerking scene in which she mourns Karen and Aubrey, she not-so-coincidentally comes across Kayako's diary...before having a much more severe coughing fit than usual, which results in her coughing up Kayako in the form of a giant hairball-come-eyeball, which rips her jaw off. The fact that you can actually see her face start to rip makes it a lot squickier.
    • The death of Gretchen in the third movie could also qualify. Yes, it's an offscreen death, but the state of her corpse when it is discovered by Max is just plain horrific - it seems that she's had her eyes gouged out and her jaw ripped off (Kayako really likes doing that to people, doesn't she?).
    • The death of Jake. Having nearly every bone in your body twisted and snapped has got to suck.
    • Kayako's death, too. Her own husband snaps her neck and leaves her to die (and it is also a possibility that, like in the original films, he slashed her with a utility knife, given the amount of blood on her when her body is discovered). By extension, Aubrey's and Naoko's deaths apply, too.
    • Max's death. Naoko bites his throat out. Considering how the latter died, it can be assumed that this is her prime method of killing.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast
  • Darkness Equals Death: Although a lot of the deaths happen in bright daylight, some occur in the attic of the house, and in assorted dark rooms. In addition to that, the curse also seems able to cause electric lights to suddenly stop working.
  • Death by Sex: Averted in the third movie, and played with in the second movie - Miyuki dies in the love hotel she checks into with her boyfriend.
  • Demonic Possession: How Kayako, Toshio, Takeo, and the cat seem to affect the apartment residents in Chicago.
    • There is a deleted scene from the first movie in which Matthew is possessed by Takeo. This is a recreation of a scene from the first Japanese theatrical movie.
    • In the third movie, Rose becomes possessed by Kayako after consuming her blood.
  • Determinator: Karen and Naoko really do give it their all to try and best the curse. Sadly, their attempts only make things worse.
  • Disconnected By Death: Vanessa in the second movie.
  • Downer Ending: It's impossible to survive the curse; it's only a matter of time before it claims your life.
  • Driven to Suicide: Peter, after discovering just what happened in the Saeki house. It is later heavily implied that he was under the curse's influence when he killed himself.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Kayako and Toshio, obviously. Add that to most other dark-haired characters who are seen after becoming curse victims (such as Aubrey, Miyuki and Naoko).
  • Elevator Snare: A supernatural example in the first film.
  • Evil Phone
  • Eye Scream: In the third movie, Kayako kills Gretchen (offscreen) by, amongst other things, gouging out her eyes.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: Yoko.
  • Facial Horror: Yoko and Gretchen, anyone?
  • Fan Disservice / Fanservice: The shower scenes in the first and second movies and the bath scene in the third movie contain a combination of both tropes. Max's Shirtless Scene in the third movie also counts.
  • Femme Fatalons: To an extent. Miyuki has extremely long, blue-painted fingernails, and this carries over into her ghost form.
  • Final Girl: Karen in the first film and Lisa in the third.
  • Follow the Leader: The success of The Ring was the chief reason it was remade in the States.
  • Foreign Remake
  • Foreshadowing: In the second movie, when Aubrey pays a visit to Kayako's mother, we see the latter, through her eyes, suddenly witnessing Kayako's spirit taking the place of Aubrey, who comes and kills her. This could possibly be foreshadowing the ending.
    • Also, in the third movie, Gretchen's portrait of Rose is slashed and splattered with red paint, resembling blood, by Kayako. This could be foreshadowing Kayako's eventual possession of Rose.
  • Freak Out: Takeo has one after discovering Kayako's huge crush on Peter.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Two occur during Susan's vignette: When Susan is in the taxi, look at one of the adverts on the back of the front passenger seat. There's a staring eye printed on one of them. Later, when Susan discovers she has a very unwelcome bedmate, look at the wall. For about a second, you can see Susan's shadow and... the shadow of Kayako, even though she isn't above the bedcovers.
    • An in-universe example occurs in the second movie, when Eason is watching an old taped interview with Nakagawa as part of his investigation. On the recording, he notices a very brief, blink-and-you'll-miss-it shape in the corner of the door behind Nakagawa, as well as a strange noise. Cue Eason rewinding the recording and playing it in slow-motion...
    • Another one from the second film: as Karen runs through the hospital she freezes in terror as a group of employees just stare at her. While many viewers write this off a a Big Lipped Alligator moment, if you look close and freeze in as the camera moves over their faces you can see the blurry figure of Kayako staring at her in he crowd.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Unfortunately for the horror film, its use in The Grudge 2 is just hilarious. The fact this is a recreation of a scene from the not-very-well-received Ju-on: The Curse 2 doesn't help.
  • Ghostly Gape: The ghost of the little boy, whose mouth is deeply black within.
  • Ghostly Goals: The second type, though not by choice.
  • Gorn: Generally avoided, although Yoko's death counts.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Kayako's prime method of killing in the third movie.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Takeo, whose jealousy over his wife's crush drives him to murder.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: Present a few times in the Director's Cut. Examples include a more close-up shot on the corpses of Matthew and Jennifer, a close up of Peter's face (as well as the pool of blood) after he kills himself, and a more lingering shot of Yoko's disembodied jaw.
  • Harmful to Minors: Happens in all three films.
    • Toshio witnesses Kayako's murder, shortly before being killed himself.
    • After dealing with the terror and the knowledge that something is deeply, horribly wrong in the apartment block, Jake discovers his father's corpse and witnesses his possessed stepmother being drowned to death.
    • Rose witnesses her beloved big brother Max becoming steadily more and more vicious as his possession gets worse, and later has Kayako inhabiting her body.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Kayako's death rattle. Also, the sound of a cat's meow has never sounded as creepy as it does in this series.
    • The ghastly moaning of the principal in The Grudge 2.
    • The Grudge 3 brings us the sound of Naoko's horrible, gurgley breathing, post-death.
  • Heroic BSOD: Allison suffers this after being exposed to the curse and subsequently being stalked by the ghosts of Vanessa and Miyuki.
    • Max has one after Takeo stops possessing him.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Rose drinking the blood during the climax of the third film could be seen as this, although it isn't likely she knew exactly what the consequences would be. However it doesn't seem like it helped much in the long run, and it wasn't in time to save Naoko (and her death starts a new curse) - although it did manage to save Lisa... at least for the time being. We shall see.
  • Hope Spot: A couple of utterly merciless examples occur in The Grudge 3. First, it appears that Naoko's ritual (which already has a slim chance of success as it is) may work - until she is killed by Max, which starts a completely new curse. Second, Rose goes ahead with the ritual, thus saving Lisa from becoming a victim of Kayako's wrath. However, it isn't quite over yet. Yes, the ritual did manage to seal Kayako's spirit away...the catch is, she was sealed inside Rose's body. Not only that, but it is heavily implied that being sealed away will not stop her.
  • Housewife: Kayako (before she was killed and became a really, really angry ghost, that is).
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Naoko desperately tries to use this on Max. It doesn't work.
  • Ill Girl: Rose, who suffers from severe breathing problems and has to rely on an oxygen generator when she over-exerts herself.
  • Impending Doom P.O.V.: Used in a deleted/alternate scene from the first movie, which was a shot-for-shot recreation of a scene from the very first Ju-on.
  • In the Hood: Allison after the curse breaks her.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Mrs. Davies has a very nasty cough and breathing problems, although it is never mentioned what sort of illness she is suffering from. However, she doesn't die in the finished movie. A deleted scene does show her death ( in which her cough does actually kill her... well, sort of), but it's anyone's guess as to whether this will end up being canonical.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted with Toshio, and Jake. Partially averted when Kayako possesses Rose at the end of The Grudge 3.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Eason.
  • Jaw Breaker: Yoko suffers this. In the third movie, Gretchen's corpse is found sans lower jaw (and eyes). The alternate ending to the second movie has Mrs. Davies suffering this, too - on-screen.
  • Jump Scare
  • Kick the Dog: Vanessa does much of the kicking, and the dog is usually Allison.
  • Kill 'em All
  • Kill It with Fire: Nakagawa attempts to stop the curse by burning down the house, but is killed by Takeo before he can accomplish this. Karen attempts to finish the job, but it backfires horribly.
  • Kill the Cutie: That is, kill all the cuties.
  • Leitmotif: The main theme, which is heard in all three films during the opening and ending credits, and also pops up during the rest of the musical scores a few times. Then there's also the One-Woman Wail that occurs throughout the second film's score.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Logo Joke: At the beginning of The Grudge 2, the Columbia Pictures logo starts as usual, but the torch flickers, briefly causing the Torch Lady to turn into Kayako and the word "COLUMBIA" to turn into "GRUDGE 2."
  • Love Hotels: Miyuki and her boyfriend go to one in The Grudge 2.
  • Make It Look Like Suicide: The authorities believe that Takeo killed himself; the Director's Cut of the first film reveals that his death was, in fact, Kayako's doing.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Vanessa.
  • Marionette Motion: Kayako almost exclusively moves like this, as does Naoko after her death.
  • Matchlight Danger Revelation: Obviously Yoko didn't realise that turning on a lighter in the middle of a dark attic = bad idea.
  • Meaningful Background Event: The elevator scene.
  • Mind Screw: Not quite to the extent of the original film series, but there are still several moments like this.
  • Mirror Scare: Several, and played with in the second film, when Kayako emerges from one.
  • Missing Mom: Jake and Lacey's mother.
  • My Car Hates Me: Happens in the third movie.
  • My God, What Have I Done? / These Hands Have Killed: After becoming possessed by Takeo and subsequently killing Naoko, Max reacts like this after the possession wears off.
  • Neck Snap: How Kayako is killed. Also happens to Aubrey in The Grudge 2, and to Dr. Sullivan in The Grudge 3.
    • Also subverted in The Grudge 3 in that the film makes you think that this is how Naoko is going to die... until she gets stabbed through the back of the throat. Admittedly, this does manage to sever her spinal chord, but it doesn't fit the trope.
  • Never Found the Body: Several of the curse victims' bodies are never found by the authorities, simply because they get pulled into nowhere. Notable victims include Susan, Miyuki and Allison.
  • New House New Problems: Woe betide anyone who moves into/enters the cursed house. Later, the curse isn't just limited to the house, spreading to those who have nothing to do with the house whatsoever...
    • From the second movie onwards, woe betide anyone who enters/moves into/already lives in that Chicago apartment block...
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Karen setting fire to the house, thereby breaking the seal containing the curse within.
    • Similarly, Naoko's ritual to contain her sister's spirit. She's killed by Max, thus starting a new grudge curse, and Rose now houses Kayako's spirit after drinking Kayako's blood.
    • In the second movie, Allison catches a flight back to the US, hoping that the curse won't follow her. It does. She ends up spreading the curse to the apartment block, resulting in the death of her family, Jake's family, and anyone else who enters the building, thus setting up the events of The Grudge 3.
  • Nightmare Face: Yoko and Gretchen.
  • No Name Given: Toshio's cat is never named. According to Fanon, his name is Mar, which happens to be the name of his counterpart in the Japanese film series.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Used, but also averted. The first movie is relentless in showing you the ghosts.
  • Offscreen Teleportation
  • Oh, Crap: Aubrey gets a moment like this when she encounters Takeo.
    • Eason's face when Kayako emerges from one of his photographs.
    • Kayako's face when she discovers that Takeo read her diary.
  • Once More with Clarity: Second movie: Following Aubrey sharing the same fate as Kayako, the earlier scene with Allison being menaced in the cupboard by Kayako plays out again, only this time the woman emerging from the attic is not Kayako, but Aubrey.
  • One-Woman Wail: A recurring theme throughout the second movie's score.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different
  • Pater Familicide
  • Parent with New Paramour: The situation with Jake's father and his new wife Trish is a Type 2 example. It averts the Wicked Stepmother trope - Trish is a genuinely nice person and tries her best to get on with Jake, who feels uncomfortable with the fact that his father is with someone else. Jake's sister Lacey deals with the situation a lot better than he does.
  • Parental Favoritism: Mrs. Davies greatly favours Karen over Aubrey, and is pretty unpleasant towards the latter.
  • Peekaboo Corpse: Kayako's body falling from the attic in the first movie.
  • Precision F-Strike: In the third movie.
  • Prehensile Hair: In the director's cut of the first film, Kayako uses her hair to hang Takeo. In the second film, she completely envelopes Vanessa's body with it.
  • Psychological Horror
  • Recut: The Director's Cut, widely considered to be a lot better than the theatrical release due to the new scenes genuinely adding to the atmosphere and feel of the movie, including more explicit violence (most obviously the flashback showing the Saeki murders, although there are others) and deepening the characters' personalities. In addition to the extra scenes present, Susan's vignette is also switched around.
  • Room Full of Crazy: After the curse drives her crazy, Allison becomes a recluse, rarely leaving her bedroom, the windows of which she covers with newspaper.
    • Also, when Peter discovers Kayako's corpse, the room features a pile of cut-up family photographs, with Kayako's face removed from all of them, and subsequently pinned to the door of the cupboard leading to the attic.
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: By the end of the third movie, Kayako is sealed inside Rose.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: Allison's death in The Grudge 2. Subverted when Kayako then occupies the left-behind clothing to menace Jake.
  • Shirtless Scene: Max has one in the third movie. Shame he happens to be possessed and crazy at the time.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog
  • Shout-Out: In the first movie, the scene where Susan runs from her workplace and hails a taxi to get home is an homage to Suspiria. Later, there is an homage to The Evil Dead when Kayako's diary flips open seemingly by itself.
    • The scene in the darkroom in the second movie may be a homage to a visually-similar scene in Shutter. Also, earlier in the same movie, the scene where Kayako appears in the reflection of Eason's TV screen after he switches it off may be a reference to an almost identical scene from Ring.
  • Shower of Angst: Karen takes one in the first movie. It is suddenly cut short, however.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Karen and Aubrey; Kayako and Naoko to an extent.
  • Single Tear: Aubrey, towards the end of the second film.
  • Spooky Painting: Used in the third movie when Kayako's face suddenly appears in one of Gretchen's paintings, and again a short while later, when she emerges out of a different painting.
  • Spooky Photographs: Eason is killed when Kayako emerges from a photograph he is in the process of developing. Later, after Aubrey discovers the corpse of Eason and is subsequently menaced by Kayako, all of the photos in the darkroom change to show Kayako's face staring out of all of them.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Kayako towards Peter.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Kayako. Aubrey ends up as one by the end of the second movie, as well (mimicking the ending of the first Japanese theatrical release, in which Rika suffers the same fate).
    • Naoko after she is killed by a curse-possessed Max in The Grudge 3.
    • Kayako's victims: Yoko, Miyuki, and Vanessa, become onryo as well.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Karen survives the first movie, but is quickly killed off in the second.
    • Ditto for Jake in the third movie.
    • Considering how both films ended, its honestly a surprise that they lived that long.
  • Tears of Fear: Karen when she first encounters Kayako, and Aubrey when she suddenly realises just what the curse has in store for her near the climax of the second film.
  • Time Travel: To an extent. The nature of the curse can cause the past, present and future to merge temporarily, as shown in The Grudge 2.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Yes, Aubrey, go into that house even when your sister told you not to.
    • To be fair, while Aubrey approached the house, she didn't willingly enter. She was suddenly dragged in.
  • Twist Ending: At the end of the second film, it is revealed that Aubrey is destined to suffer the same fate as Kayako, and the spectre witnessed emerging from the attic by Allison is revealed to be Aubrey, and not Kayako, as originally thought. However, the fact that several parts of the movies are deliberately left open to interpretation may throw certain aspects of the ending into question.
  • Twisted Ankle: In the second movie, Aubrey breaks her ankle while fleeing from Takeo, which results in her having to crawl down the stairs to try (and fail) to escape. This implies that the same thing (or at least something very similar) happened to Kayako. A similar occurance happens in the third movie, when Max breaks Naoko's knee.
  • Undead Child: Take a wild guess.
  • Undercrank: Used on Kayako at the climax of the first film (as well as a few other occasions), to creepy effect.
  • Vader Breath: After being killed by Max and subsequently becoming a ghost, the noises that Naoko makes consist of raspy, gurgling breathing, thanks to being stabbed through the back of the throat.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The milk scene.
  • Wham Moment: The ending of the second movie, when Aubrey suddenly realises just what the curse has in store for her...
  • Wham Line: "It followed me here!"
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Jake to Allison when he confronts her about the mysterious deaths in his apartment building, including his whole family; Allison is promptly killed by Kayako right in front of him.
  • With Friends Like These...: Poor Allison is manipulated, mocked and cruelly pranked by both Vanessa and Miyuki, who use her naivety to their advantage. Also, Vanessa even seems to treat Miyuki in a cruel manner, in spite of their supposed friendship.
  • Woman in White: Kayako.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Kayako, Toshio, and, as of The Grudge 3, Naoko.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Naoko's ritual. It doesn't work the way it was planned.
  • You Killed My Sister: Aubrey is grief-stricken over Karen's death, and she namechecks this trope when she returns to the house for the final time (while she's still alive, anyway).

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alternative title(s): The Grudge
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