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'The Grudge 2'

The second Grudge movie is worlds better than The Ring 2, but it would seem that the trend toward American remakes of Japanese horror movies about pissed-off demon girls with long, stringy hair has run its course. In Tokyo, Aubrey (Amber Tamblyn) has arrived from the U.S. to rescue her older sister (Sarah Michelle Gellar, in a brief cameo), who was terrorized in the first film by the angry ghost of a murdered woman and child. Ignoring some very sensible advice, Aubrey enters the dead people's creepy house. Meanwhile, in Chicago, a young boy (Matthew Knight, superb) begins to suspect that there's something evil lurking in the apartment next door. Generating gore-free unease through sound effects and scary faces is the specialty of director Takashi Shimizu, who helmed the original series (known in Japan as Ju-On). He creates some unsettling moments here, particularly a well-staged scene involving a body under the sheets and a man in a shower, but the evil ghost itself is a predictable, one-trick pony. The finale, in which the separate stories come together in America, isn't an ending at all, but a setup, it's clear, for a third film, which looks to be something along the lines of The Grudge Takes Manhattan.


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