The Grudge appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although consistently watchable, the transfer seemed erratic and fairly lackluster.
Sharpness varied a bit. Most of the movie came across as reasonably defined and concise. However, exceptions occurred, as the film occasionally looked somewhat soft and tentative. No jagged edges occurred, but blinds caused some shimmering and I also noticed moderate edge enhancement at times. Grain was heavier than usual, and a few examples of specks popped up during the film.
With an extremely subdued palette at work, not many colors cropped up in Grudge. A few exterior daylight scenes exhibited natural, warm tones. However, most of the flick took place indoors and created a grayish cast. The colors we saw looked fine; we just didn’t get many of them. Blacks tended to be slightly inky, but remained acceptably dense for the most part. Shadows also were mildly heavy and not quite as cleanly delineated as I’d like. No serious problems marred the image, but it showed enough small concerns to get a “B-“.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Grudge demonstrated greater consistency. With a story such as this, I expected audio heavy on atmospherics, and that’s what I got. Mostly the mix stayed with creepy creaks and spooky music, as it usually didn’t get into much beyond that. However, this was more than appropriate for the flick, and when the track needed to kick into higher gear, it did so well. Elements were nicely placed around the soundfield, and the surrounds added good material at times. For example, a few scenes used ominous footsteps that padded across the rear. The track didn’t often become terribly active, but it was a smooth soundfield.
Audio quality also fared well. Speech consistently remained natural and crisp, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. The mostly subdued score was clear and concise. It mustered good depth when necessary and always came across as well-rendered. Effects followed suit. They mostly stayed quiet but they added strong punch at times. Across the board, bass response was deep and firm. This wasn’t a showy enough mix to merit “A”-level consideration, but it suited the material.
As with my remarks about the movie itself, I copied my picture and audio comments from my review of the original Grudge. I saw and heard nothing that was different from what I experienced with the prior DVD. Picture and sound quality appeared virtually identical for both discs.
None of the extras on the “unrated extended director’s cut” of The Grudge also appeared on the original DVD. These features begin with an audio commentary from director Takashi Shimizu, producer Taka Ichise, and actor Takako Fuji. All three sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. Note that they speak Japanese through the piece; we can watch it with English subtitles.
Through this jovial commentary, you’ll learn about subjects such as locations and sets, changes from the original Japanese version and alterations made for the director’s cuts, working with the actors, story issues, visual design, and various challenges. Despite the darkness of the movies, the participants joke around a lot and make this a surprisingly fun piece. It doesn’t provide a surfeit of information, but it gives us enough to remain likable and entertaining.
15 Deleted Scenes run between 61 seconds and five minutes, 14 seconds for a total of 33 minutes and eight seconds. Some of these are redundant or tedious, but a surprising number of them work pretty well. Doug gets more screen time, so he’s not so much of a cipher, and a few decent scares appear as well. Maybe the shots wouldn’t mesh with the rest of the flick, but I think they should have kept at least four or five of these clips.
We can watch the scenes with or without commentary from director Shimizu and the others. They tell us some details about the segments, let us know what was and wasn’t in the Japanese version, and occasionally relate why they snipped the bits. Usually they cut the sequences for time, but a couple of alternate reasons appear for some pieces. The commentary has some decent information, but a lot of the time the participants just narrate the shots, so it’s not terribly valuable.
Five short pieces appear in the “Featurettes” domain. The Grudge House: An Insider’s Tour runs three minutes and 57 seconds. This piece leads us through the house set and shows us its various dimensions. It occasionally superimposes movie footage to show us the action that happened in each particular spot. This doesn’t serve much of a purpose and it comes across as a pretty pointless extra.
The three-minute and 12-second Sights and Sounds: The Storyboard Art of Takashi Shimizu offers what you’d expect. We see close-ups of some drawings created for the film’s climax. Why doesn’t this program use the usual storyboard to film comparison format? I don’t know, but that’d be a more productive use of our time.
Similar material shows up in Production Designer’s Notebook: The Sketches of Iwao Saito. This two-minute and 25-second featurette shows the concept art created for many of the film’s sets. I’d prefer a standard stillframe gallery, but the shots work fine as they give us a good look at the detailed planning sketches.
Two video diaries appear next. We get one from Sarah Michelle Gellar (nine minutes, one second) and another from KaDee Strickland (13:29). Gellar gives us a look at events on the set, while Strickland leads us around Tokyo. Too much of Gellar’s is cutesy as she wonders where the tardy director is, but it provides some decent glimpses of the shoot. Strickland gives us a moderately fun look at the city. She tosses in her two cents as she wanders around various spots, and it’s fairly enjoyable to see.
Next comes two of director Shimizu’s original Ju-On films. We get “4444444444” (two minutes, 57 seconds) and “In a Corner” (3:22). “Corner” is the better of the two, though it goes nowhere. “4444444444” is just idiotic.
The DVD offers some ads in the Previews area. We get promos for Boogeyman, DEBS, Steamboy, Darkness Falls and the extended cut of Underworld
The Grudge aspires to be more than just the usual schlock, but it doesn’t usually succeed. The movie is quirkier and more stylish than most, but it relies on too many stock scares and never pays off in a satisfying manner. The DVD presents somewhat mediocre picture with effective sound and some decent extras.
I wasn’t wild about the theatrical cut of The Grudge, and nothing about this longer version made me like it more. In fact, the extra footage slows down an already sluggish story. As such, it’s not something I’d recommend to new viewers. However, if you’re a big fan of the flick, this DVD might be worth a look. The extended edition of the film isn’t anything special, but at least it tosses out a bunch of new extras. If that’s worth the film’s price is something you’ll have to decide. I’d guess “no”, but diehards might want it anyway.
To rate this film, visit the orignal review of THE GRUDGE