Plot: After her sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) was hospitalized, Aubrey (Amber Tamblyn) travels to Japan to be at her side and to look into what happened, to put her in such a troubled head space. The rumors of a curse are rampant and there seems to be evidence to support these claims, based on a series of mysterious deaths connected to the apartment Karen once worked in. But if she is going to uncover the truth, Aubrey knows she needs to learn the full background on the curse and to that end, she ends up teamed with a local reporter to hunt down clues. But can she survive long enough to unlock the buried truth about the curse and when signs of another curse surface across the globe, does that mean these vengeful spirits are everywhere?

Entertainment Value: While The Grudge failed to live up to the original Japanese version, it was a passable watch and it was such a box office hit that a sequel was put into motion just days after the premiere. This first sequel however falls short of even the bar set by the remake and while it has the basics of The Grudge, it just feels drawn out and forgettable. The story feels weak and unoriginal, not the worst out there, but not the kind of narrative that keeps you on edge. I think the visuals of the creeping hair and the meowing ghost are still effective at times, even in this kind of bland experience, but that’s about all The Grudge 2 can offer. The creepy ghosts and jump scares might be enough for viewers however, though the bloated run time and slow pace might deter even those with lowered expectations. A couple of the ghost encounters are eerie and some are hilarious, so there is mild entertainment value here, just not enough for a real recommendation.

This is a direct sequel to The Grudge and a couple prominent performers return, with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryo Ishibashi both back. Of course, the focus of the story shifts in this one, so their roles are smaller than before, but at least there are some connective threads involved. I would never complain when it comes to Ishibashi, as he brings a lot even to small roles, so he is a welcome presence here. The lead role is turned over to Amber Tamblyn, who delivers a basic, nondescript performance that you’ll likely forget the second the end credits roll. Some of the blame has to be put on the material, which doesn’t give her much of a chance to shine, but I’ve seen plenty of performers in these kind of weak roles who rose to the challenge. If she had dialed in her performance and brought more presence, it might have been easier to overlook the lesser elements and that could have made a difference. The cast also includes Jennifer Beals, Arielle Kebbel, and Christopher Cousins.

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