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‘Grudge 2’ isn’t as scary as first film

There are a couple of good jumps here and there, but we’ve seen this all before. And the creepy, dead girl, having been infinitely parodied, doesn’t seem quite so creepy anymore.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The tormented souls from “The Grudge” are still tormented, but they’re taking their pain on a world tour in “The Grudge 2.”

That creepy, dead girl with the long, stringy black hair (Takako Fuji) and her little brother in his perpetual fetal position (Ohga Tanaka) are back, as is Takashi Shimizu, who directed the 2004 hit “The Grudge,” based on his own series of Japanese horror movies. (“Evil Dead” creator and “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi once again lends his name, and his cred, to the credits as an executive producer.)

This time they explain the origins of the curse that dwells within that dark, secluded house. But now the haunted themselves seem to have the ability to be everywhere at once: in a girls’ locker room in Tokyo, in a bathtub in Chicago, in a phone booth, in a hospital. They seem to travel through walls and water; they can control electricity and cell-phone communication.

Seems that if they’re this resourceful, they could figure out whatever it is they’re looking for and finally find some peace. But then there wouldn’t be a “Grudge 3,” which this sequel clearly sets up.

There are a couple of good jumps here and there, but we’ve seen this all before. And the creepy, dead girl, having been infinitely parodied (especially in “Scary Movie 4”), doesn’t seem quite so creepy anymore.

(At a recent late-night showing in Los Angeles, there was a girl dressed in the same white nightgown with the same hair, crawling slowly down the aisle in time with the arrival of her on-screen counterpart. “The Grudge” has turned into “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” that’s how not-scary it’s become.)

Amber Tamblyn takes over as the plucky, young heroine in distress, though Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of the original “Grudge,” does drop in for a cameo. It’s oddly comforting, like a visit from an old friend — like seeing Karen Black or Morgan Fairchild or Adrienne Barbeau.

Tamblyn (“Joan of Arcadia”), as Aubrey Davis, is sent to find her older sister, Karen (Gellar), who’s being treated in a Japanese hospital and is under investigation for the fire that killed her boyfriend. The two conveniently have had a falling out, which only the shared stress of a horror movie could repair.

At the same time, several other disparate characters have found themselves similarly victimized.

There’s Allison (Arielle Kebbel, with her blond hair dyed black to make her look nerdy), an American newcomer at an international high school in Tokyo. Hoping to fit in with the mean girls (Teresa Palmer and Misako Uno), who wear their plaid school uniform skirts extra short, she agrees to accompany them to that famously haunted house where all those people have died. Bad stuff ensues.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, weird things start happening when Trish (Jennifer Beals) moves in with her widower fiance, Bill (Christopher Cousins) and his two kids (Matthew Knight and Sarah Roemer). Things go bump in the night, big sis comes home in her itty-bitty cheerleader outfit and finds all the lights have been turned off. By now, you get the point: “The Grudge 2” is less about fear than it is about faint titillation.

Maybe everyone’s going crazy. Maybe the spirits are savvy enough to use their frequent flyer miles. Either way, interior logic has been tossed out the window somewhere along the journey.