“While the house is still the core of this movie, the ‘Grudge’ travels to many different places in The Grudge 2,” promises Shimizu. The new storylines further explore the mysteries of the “Grudge” and also demonstrate how the curse has spread beyond the doomed house where it began.
Amber Tamblyn, who stars in The Grudge 2, says that what captivated her about the script was the interconnected storylines. “When I was reading the script, I remember jumping between my story and the others that were woven around it and being excited to see what was going to happen next to the other characters.”
Sarah Michelle Gellar, who returns in The Grudge 2, offers, “From the start everyone agreed that this was scarier than the first movie, mainly because you get to meet the characters and know so much more about them personally. For example, the character of Allison, played by Arielle Kebbel, is someone the audience really gets to experience and learn what her life is about before she meets ‘The Grudge.’”
As Kebbel herself explains, “Since The Grudge 2 is a horror film, there is not a lot of time for character development. Shimizu-san and I made Allison the type of character you need no words to understand. When you first see her trying to catch up to the ‘cool’ girls at the international high school, you just can’t help but feel bad for her. From her uneven socks, brown penny loafers, funny outfit, all the way down to her awkward posture… it would simply be a pity to not pity Allison.”
Already an established celebrity in Asia, Canadian-born actor Edison Chen, who makes his U.S. film debut in The Grudge 2, has high praise for the screenplay. “It is easily one of the best scripts I’ve read, because it goes into so much detail about what each actor is supposed to feel,” he says.
Another cast member, Sarah Roemer, was taken with the script primarily because “it delves into the history of the first film. You find out all the reasons for the ‘Grudge.’ It’s one of the better horror scripts I’ve read in a long time, because it has so many different elements.”
For veteran actor Christopher Cousins, the fact that the storylines are interwoven throughout the movie gives it a deliberately disorienting feel. “As an audience member, you begin to identify with that sense of disorientation, which makes you feel that much more vulnerable,” he says.
Tamblyn, who shares most of her scenes with Edison Chen, agrees that unlike most horror thrillers, The Grudge 2 is a character-driven film. “It is really about when the unknown becomes personal, when something gets very close and very scary, but is still unexplainable. Most horror movies don’t take the time to do that. There are things about this movie that are so creepy that I was shaking when I was reading the script! That’s what is wonderful about a good horror thriller — it keeps the audience continually on edge as it throws scary visual scenes at them.”
The cast of The Grudge 2 is comprised of an international group of actors. Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel, Jennifer Beals, Christopher Cousins, Sarah Roemer, Jenna Dewan and Joanna Cassidy are American. Matthew Knight and Edison Chen are Canadian, Teresa Palmer is Australian and Misako Uno is Japanese.
Working with such an eclectic cast presented new challenges for Shimizu in what is only his second English-language film. “I do not know many non-Japanese actors, so I explained to the producers the personality of each character, their importance in the story, what I required from them and how I wanted them to look. Then the producers in the U.S. picked the American actors. Taka Ichise and I then selected the Japanese actors.”
Many of the actors who landed roles in The Grudge 2 were major fans of the first English-language remake and were eager to have the opportunity to work in Japan. However, 12-year-old Matthew Knight assumed that because of his storyline, he would not be making the voyage. “Once they told me I was going to Japan, I flipped out. I was so excited.”
Adds Kebbel: “Besides the obvious thrill of getting to play Allison and work in Tokyo with Shimizu-san, the more subtle thrill was the opportunity to work with actors from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong. We had cultures and traditions to learn and live up to. It was a true blessing to learn how America and Americans are perceived through the eyes of a 16-year-old Japanese pop star. As for me, it was an opportunity to ask questions about the different lifestyles within those varied cultures.”
Sarah Michelle Gellar serves as a vital link between the two films, the first of which ended with her character attempting to burn down the house in the hope of destroying the vengeful Kayako. For The Grudge 2, the character of Aubrey, played by Tamblyn, travels to Japan to find out what really happened to her sister, setting the wheels in motion for the new thriller, in which Gellar’s character Karen “realizes she has lost her boyfriend, the love of her life, and is basically committed to a facility that is somewhere between a hospital and a mental institution,” says Gellar. “Anyone who saw the first movie will understand that everything Karen says is real, but to the characters on screen, she sounds a bit like she’s off her rocker.”
The only character who seems to think otherwise is Karen’s sister Aubrey. “Amber was a wonderful choice for the role,” according to Gellar. “I’ve known her since she was 13 years old and I’ve always thought there was a lot about us that is very similar — the way we interact with people, how we look at the world. I don’t think the producers were even aware of those similarities until they actually saw us together.”
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