The Grudge 2 (1 star)

(15) 102min

With four Japanese Ju-On: The Grudge films under his belt, a fifth in the works and now a pair of US remakes to his name, writer-director Takashi Shimizu has rung a lucrative career out of his simple idea of a malign ghost that haunts one victim after another like an ectoplasmic virus. Arriving five years after the all too similar Japanese horror hit Ringu, 2000’s Ju-On (aka Curse Grudge) was at the outset pretty derivative. Six years on and as many sequels later one wonders what’s left to do with this repetitive and underwhelming series.

Well, turn it into an American horror franchise appears to be the answer on the evidence of Shimizu’s second stab at Hollywood-backed filmmaking. This garbled mess picks up after the previous film, which starred teen scream queen Sarah Michelle Gellar, with Gellar’s little sister Amber Tamblyn (a Buffy alumni) taking a trip to Tokyo to find out why her big sis ended up in the loony ward of a hospital after burning down a house. Thereafter, the film bounces incoherently back and forth between Japan and New York and parallel spooky events that blatantly serve to shift the action (and franchise) from East to West. None of this would be so bad if The Grudge 2 delivered a modicum of scares. But the latest outbreak of this viral franchise is highly containable.

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