Picking up right where the first film left off, “Grudge 2” follows the increasing power of the curse that Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) encountered in the remake of the Japanese film, “Ju-On”. The curse has now spread beyond the walls of the Saeki family home and it falls to Karen’s sister to try to unravel it and find a way to stop it.
Karen’s sister Aubrey (Amber Tamblyn) flies to Japan immediately after the events of the first film to bring her sister home. Instead, she winds up embroiled in the same curse. A trio of schoolgirls also find themselves in the midst of it all, as does a family in Chicago who succumbs to the fury of it. The film is exactly that confusing. Each of those stories is in a different timeline and, though they do all converge, that isn’t shown until the end. Worse, the movie skips back and forth between them randomly, making it hard to follow at first. When you figure out what’s going on, it mostly works, but it could have been done better to let the viewer know what was going on.
The bigger problem is that the film doesn’t do anything. The first film was all about the creepy mother and son ghosts popping up in improbable places, croaking at their victim and then striking. By now, you’re used to it, you’re expecting it, so it loses its power and becomes “more of the same”. Even worse, the first film offered some sort of resolution (albeit a failed attempt at resolution). Here, the curse is free and spreading like a virus to anyone who entered the house and those around them. There’s no talk of a resolution or even an endgame for our cursed spirit – the ending makes it all too apparent that it’s just going to go on and on (until people stop seeing the sequels, presumably).
There are some things here that work, though. The creepiness of the first film is still there and the omnipresence of the curse actually does work in that regard – there’s no escaping those dead, blank eyes. The backstory behind the curse also helps make the whole thing work.
Ultimately, though, this is a pale shadow of the first – which is too bad, because its implications are far greater. The first film was a “stay out of the haunted house” film. This is a “we’re all doomed” film, but ultimately it leaves you more or less resigned to your fate rather than dreading it, which is the real shame here.