The Grudge (2004) – Thoughts From Thatbigscreenguy

Wierd moaning. That’s what I remember the most while being freaked out at the sight of Kayako’s suspenseful yet frightening crawls. “The Grudge” for me personally has always had that eerily feeling that not many horror films have on me nowadays. Usually it’s built up on suspense or the unknown or basically something inevitable to avoid, yet you try your hardest only to end up failing.

*SPOILERS*

Synopsis?

The sight of jealousy causes a misfortune for the Saeki family, where the man of the house goes 187 on his wife, Kayako, because fell in love with her college professor (let that be a warning lesson to me). Through the circumstances of this tragedy however, a curse to be born and thus all who come into contact with it, die horrific yet unexplainable deaths. In comes Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar). With her boyfriend Doug, she must now confront the supernatural forces that begin to haunt her and find a way to survive the curse before it’s too late.

What did I think?

Well if you asked me this question a few years ago I would’ve said that it was absolutely the scariest thing I ever saw. Nowadays I just look at it as having too many faults that I noticed even in my childhood. The first thing I would point out is the structure of the film itself. Remember I mentioned Karen? Well she and Doug aren’t the only ones that deal with the the curse in this film. Others encounter it as well in their own respective stories. Some of these subplots even intermingle, closing any loopholes that might be asked about the film. I understand that there is style to the narrative structure of “The Grudge” which is nonlinear in an out-of-sequence order, but that also kind of works against it in a sense. As a kid, obviously this was nothing more than getting the feces scared out of me for kicks, but I always remember asking myself where in the world did some of these characters come from, if they were supposedly already dead 5 minutes ago.

Another issue I really had with the “The Grudge” was its ending. Let me just be clear that I absolutely hate cliffhangers. I really can’t stand them. They leave something open for the audience to interpret and ask themselves what would’ve happened. To me, a cliffhanger is only suitable for an ending when it’s done right.

If you’re going to have Sarah Michelle Gellar turn around to the sight of Kayako’s creepy eye and the sounds of her terrifying moaning and just have everything cut to black with credits, well that’s just more stressful than appalling. My personal opinion is that to have someone “emotionally invested” is to at least include some kind of closure, not just leave something open in the middle of a sequence that must surely have some kind of immediate result. Obviously the aftermath would be explored in “The Grudge 2” but as far as the first installment goes as a stand-alone product, this was a cheap way to end the film.

Favorite Scene (If Any)?

The one moment that I’ve always remembered about “The Grudge” is the scene with Alex and the “possessed” Yoko. Of course Alex would be the simple-minded twit who decides the follow the creepy girl down a flight of stairs in the middle of the night.

Final Thoughts?

Despite these flaws, I overall appreciated the film and thus will say that I liked it. I  think the original Japanese version is completely superior since it’s all competent about originality. This is just a remake that I’m talking about. If you guys have never seen “Ju-on: The Grudge,” I would recommend seeing that prior to giving this film a go. That’s just my personal take on it.

Top 5 Favorite Chucky Murders

Well as this is coincidently my 50th post (yes I counted), I’ve decided to try something new. If I’m going to start anywhere, it might as well be one of these “top 5” posts that I sometimes read here. So I’m pretty much just trying to pick out what my title implies without sounding too frisky. Simple and straight to the point right?

As Chucky is one of the best serial killers and my personal favorite character in the horror genre, I’ve decided to count down what I see as his top 5 murders.

#5: Phil Simpson

Remember how Andy could never get anyone to believe that Chucky was alive? Well usually someone would realize the truth behind that until it was too late. Phil was obviously no exception and Chucky delivers a humorous punch line just to top it all off.

#4: Colonel Cochrane

Now this is kind of tricky. Chucky never actually kills this victim but rather faces a disappointing circumstance, at least in his view. I guess Chucky enjoys murder so much up to the point, that if a potential victim just dies in front of him due to a heart attack before Chucky can even lay a scratch, well then that must really be a letdown for him. Oh well, there’s always more victims right around the corner.

#3: Britney Spears

What a role model he is. If Chucky is going to have a boys night out with his son, he’ll make sure there’s plenty of adventure. Even after a conversation about quitting murder with his wife Tiffany, Chucky once again found himself in circumstances that eventually “forced” him to relapse. And just imagine. To have a celebrity for a victim must’ve been like getting an X-Box achievement for Chucky. 50 points maybe. Ha…

#2: The Military Barber

Not to sound pretentious but this was pretty much downright hilarious in my view. Even after committing a murder, Chucky still has the audacity to not get rid of the evidence, but rather scare it off. So by simply saying “boo,” I think Chucky pulled off a sensational and hilarious irony, where he didn’t have to commit murder but rather let the terrified Whitehurst sprint away with the recurring image of a doll having just killed the barber that cut his hair.

#1: Miss Kettewell

As a kid we dread the idea of coming to school where we have to listen to teachers, do homework, and basically just procrastinate our lives and schoolwork. What could be worse? Maybe a killer doll ready to torture you senseless. In a sense this scene really still creeps me out sometimes. Alas, we see Chucky savagely beat the living hell out of our poor Miss Kettlewell with a ruler. It’s not even that much of a “creative” murder, but in a sense I’ve always thought of this as the creepiest murder he’s ever committed. Maybe it’s the music. Maybe it’s the way Chucky evilly delivers his line “You’ve been very naughty Miss Kettlewell.” Maybe it’s the fact that this occurs right in a kindergarden classroom. I can’t put my finger on it, but alas, the image of a doll walking towards you with the fullest intention of murder, will always stick in my head for some reason. You disagree? Take a look…

Aliens (G #24)

Those childhood days where your parents trap you at the dinner table and try feeding you food that you don’t like. You just sit there and look at the food like…

Aliens girl

Aliens (1986)

If those despicable things of horror were real, I would’ve just gotten a facehugger for a pet (hope my dog doesn’t read that). Science fiction would surely back me up on that.

“Raccoons” Everywhere In the Underground

Resident Evil (2002)

Let me think about it. I was 7 years old when this came out. As a straightforward horror film, I always enjoyed this kind of entertainment but lately it’s kind of grown out on me. You look at 2002’s “Resident Evil” and you think what an amazing job it must have been to base the movie on elements of the video game series. I’ve played the games too when I was little and was creeped out enough to say the least.

*SPOILERS*

My title by the way, refers to the city itself which isn’t necessarily featured prominently until later in the film series. I loved the concept of being trapped underground in a top secret laboratory with a bunch of flesh-eating zombies. Throw in an array of advanced technology as a defense mechanism and you’ve got a terrifying isolated place as your main setting. Characterization is pretty limited which is something I didn’t always like that this film excluded. Everyone is just thrown into this horrific setting with barely any noted background or story.

There were some other things that I never truly enjoyed about this film. The first would have to be the acting. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Mila Jovovich as well as Michelle Rodriguez. It’s just that the amnesia-clueless Alice never really got me over, but I suppose it was meant to serve as an excuse so that the other characters could explain to all of us, the audience, what the situation is in the film. Jovovich did a solid job in that sense, but I just never looked at it in an Oscar-winning performance kind of way.

That brings me to my next point. With zombies thrown into the mix, it’s obvious that these characters needed to have some fighting skills to defend themselves and in that theory I was correct. “Resident Evil” throws in a solid punch with non-stop martial arts and butt-kicking, mostly delivered from our lovely blond, Alice. That was a bit of a distraction when it came to following the story. A virus is let loose in the Hive and thus the Red Queen goes 187 on everyone’s ass, even once our commando team of characters decide to investigate the dilemma.

From there we even get a science fiction aspect. Lasers and lickers all around are enough to make much of a challenge for our team, which by the way begins to die off one by one as the film progresses. Well we really only get to see one licker and the effects kind of looked below average but I’m not going to bash against the production team for this. They did a better job with the lickers in “Apocalypse,” but that’s another story… I have to say though, I always loved Michelle Rodriguez in any role that she is in and I was never ok with the fact that they killed her off. Oh well at least she got a kick-ass dramatic death and we even got to see her as a zombie.

All jokes aside I’ve always remembered this installment of the horror series for two reasons. One is because of the beginning, where Alice awakens in her shower. Since then, it’s become a noteworthy scene that’s actually been replicated in the film series itself later on. The other reason is because of it’s cliffhanger ending. Since the majority of the film takes place in the Hive, we never really get to see what Raccoon City looks like in detail though it is mentioned throughout the film. Once we get to the ending however, the first shot we get, is that of a deserted apocalyptic-like city that’s basically been demolished by the undead while our main character had been isolated away by Umbrella. I’m not sure why, but that scene of the camera zooming out on Alice to showing what the city has become, has always been one of the creepiest scenes I’ve ever gazed upon.

You can see it for yourselves here if you want…

More Like *Adult’s* Play

Child's Play 1988

Freaking dolls. If Chucky had a successor it would have to be today’s Annabelle, but that’s besides the point. As a kid, I think this is where my fear of dolls began. Released in 1988, “Child’s Play” follows a young and innocent Andy Barclay who gets more than he bargained for when he gets a surprise birthday present.

*SPOILERS*

I was surprised by the amount of suspense that entails almost the entire first half of the movie. It keeps you guessing if a doll really can be a murdering psychopath until we actually do get to see Chucky come alive and scare the living feces out of us. As far as I’m concerned, all that suspense is worth it. Basically the origins of Chucky are explained through serial killer Charles Lee Ray, who ends up transferring his soul into a “Good-Guy” doll.

The rest of this story follows this not so good-guy doll pull on another string of murders that eventually result in our precious Andy becoming the prime suspect. Eventually it’s all up to Andy’s mother and a police detective to rescue Andy before Chucky transfers his soul into the little boy.

I’m not really sure if other films came before this one with a killer doll concept, but in terms of a story and characters, I loved the originality of this film. Out of all the horror franchises that I’ve seen, this is still my favorite one to date. Firstly I have to compliment whoever it is that designed the now infamous “Good-Guy” doll. It may appear friendly and cute to some but it really doesn’t look like anything I would’ve made my parents buy me at all.

I also have to compliment the young Alex Vincent for giving a terrific performance as Andy. For someone that young to be acting in a horror film, he did the best thing possible to showcase himself and portray just how an innocent little boy that’s getting haunted by a killer doll should be like. If he were looking back at his performance here, I’m sure he would be proud of himself.

Everyone else should get just as much recognition but the true standout in all of this, has to be Brad Dourif. I don’t think anyone else could’ve installed horror into a “cute” doll better than the individual that actually voiced it. A brash, word-cursing and aggressive voice-over performance by Mr. Dourif is just what was needed to make Chucky believable and obviously scary too. All my praise goes out to him as he can instill horror and even some humor with that Chucky voice to this day.

Even in its normal state I can remember that this doll still creeped me the hell out, so you can pretty much imagine my reaction as a kid once he came alive. If you want to know what I’m talking about, check out this little video treat…

Freddy vs Jason (G #15)

Wink

Freddy vs Jason (2003)

I don’t care if it’s past 1 in the morning in my timezone. I don’t care if the weather is chilly outside. I don’t care if I work tomorrow or not. All I care about is the fact that I’m hungry and that Freddy creeped me out with that one wink at the end of this movie.

When Dolls Attack

Annabelle 2014

So while I was on vacation, I went to see “Annabelle” with some friends and family. A little side note: I actually liked “The Conjuring” and since then, I was really anticipating this semi-prequel. After watching it however I was anything but completely satisfied. It’s not bad but I find a lot of flaws in it.

*SPOILERS*

So basically if you haven’t watched “The Conjuring,” you can still watch this “horror movie” but there isn’t really anything new about this movie that I haven’t seen in other horror films. If anything, this actually made me laugh more than it did scare me. Most of its “scary” scenes are based purely on pop-up antics and out-of-nowhere surprises. Even so, there isn’t much that I can praise about the film other than maybe the way it was shot. It’s like a POV film which incorporates that element to have us see what the characters are seeing and just how terrified they and hopeless they are until something just pops up out of nowhere.

Everything else seems like it was just clustered up such as the story, the characters, the acting and obviously the Annabelle doll. I thought they were okay but even the woman from the library had more backstory than the main characters did. As for how the story played out, it was just like a haunted house movie, only here the house isn’t causing the haunting but the doll is. That’s where I want to talk about the infamous Annabelle doll. All we ever get out of “her” is the story that a crazed woman from a cult passes her soul into the doll and thus she is trying to summon some kind of demon. It admittedly is kind of creepy and realistic since this kind of situation can happen anywhere but I still thought they could give us something more.

The part I really disliked was the ending. Obviously you would expect some kind of resolution or cliffhanger, but the way this ending was done was anything but fascinating. It’s a simple sacrifice-to-save-another cliche moment where the librarian jumps to save the innocent baby from dying. There wasn’t any originality or surprise in making me wonder whether something unexpected would be played out. I’d actually prefer a cliffhanger ending.

Like I said, if you’re into “The Conjuring” this will be a bit of a loss of momentum, when you compare the two. I can say it definitely is worth a watch but that should be it. It’ll surely give some people a thrill but as for other horror movie-goers like me, I only ended up laughing more than being frightened. Put more simply, if you’ve seen the trailer, you will almost already know when to anticipate a scary sequence so you’ll probably end up laughing in excitement. At least that’s how my experience was. But like I just said, it’s still worth at least one watch, because after all… that is one creepy ass doll.