The Grudge (2004)

Directed by

Takashi Shimizu

Produced by

Sam Raini
Robert Tapert

Written by

Stephen Susco


Sarah Michelle Gellar
Jason Behr
William Mapother
KaDee Strickland
Clea DuVall
Bill Pullman

Editing by

Jeff Betancourt

Distributed by

Columbia Pictures

Release date(s)

October 22, 2004

Running time

92 minutes

Prceded by

Ju-on: The Grudge 2

Followed by

The Grudge 2

The Grudge is the 2004 American remake of the Japanese film Ju-on: The Grudge, and the first horror film in the Ju-on series, Ju-on 1. The film is the first istallment in the American horror film series The Grudge. The film was released in North America on October 22, 2004 by Columbia Pictures, and is directed by Takashi Shimizu (director of the original series) while Stephen Susco scripted the remake. In the same tradition as the original series, the plot of the film is told through a non-linear sequence of events and includes several intersecting subplots.

The film has spawned two sequels: The Grudge 2 (wich was released on October 13, 2006) and The Grudge 3 (wich was released on May 12, 2009).


The Grudge describes a curse that is born when someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage or extreme sorrow. The curse gathers in the place where that person died. Those who encounter this murderous supernatural force die and the curse is reborn repeatedly, passed from victim to victim in an endless, growing chain of horror. The following events are explained in their actual order (which differs from the order shown on film).


The film opens on a man, Dr. Peter Kirk - An American Professor in Japan's Capital, Tokyo. One morning, he is standing on his high rise balcony, with a troubled look on his face. His wife, Maria, looks at him from inside their apartment and asks him what's wrong. Without any word or hesitation, he flings himself over the balcony, committing suicide, as a shocked Maria looks on.

The Williams FamilyEdit

Matthew Williams, his wife Jennifer, and his ailing mother Emma, move into the Seaki house. Jennifer is unhappy with her life in Japan: she is unable to speak the language, and has gotten lost once on a walk. Matthew assures her things will improve and that if they don't, the family will return to the United States.

Jennifer falls asleep on a couch in the living room. The sound of her bowl hitting the floor startles her awake and she discovers the bowl on the floor, the contents strewn everywhere. She scolds Emma for making the mess, but the sees a trail of wet child's footprints leading out to the hall. She sees a cat on the landing of the stairs and sees a pair of white arms gently pick it up. She continues upstairs and enters her bedroom (Toshio's former bedroom). The door closes behind her.

Matthew returns from work and finds the house in complete disarrey with trash strew everywhere. He calls out to his wife who doesn't answer. He finaly finds her on thei bed, unable to move or speak and struggling to breath. Before he can call an ambulance he is startled by the sudden appearance of a young boy making cat sound named Toshio. He backs up against the closet as Toshio appears suddenly over his head.

Later, Susan, Matthew's sister, is preparing to leave the office. After attempting to call, Susan icreasingly becomes conserned from not being able to reach Matthew. She strts to leave her office building but she is stopped by the sound of moaning coming from the hallway. She quickly exits to the stairs but is frightened when the lights start to flicker and shatter. Susan looks over the railing to see Kayako's ghost crawling up the stairs. Susan flees to the closest hallway but Kayako grabs her cell phone charm and pulls it off. Susan goes to the security office, seeking help. There the security guard promises to check it out. Susan wathes the monitor as the security guard investigates. However, he fins nothing and leaves. Then the lights flicker and Kayako rises up out of the shadows in the hallway and walks toward the security camera. Susan runs.

Susan takes a taxi cab back to her apartment. She enters an elevator, and it ascends several floors. Susan does not notice, however: that Toshio is standing outside each set of elevator doors she passes, getting progressively closer with each passing floor. Susan makes it safely inside when her phone rings. It is Matthew claiming to have forgotten his apartment number and asking to be buzzed inside. She tells him where to find her and activates the buzzer with the phone. The doorbell rings immediately after she hangs up. Thinking Matthew could not possibly have had time to arrive, she checks the peephole of the door. Shocked to find it is Matthew, Susan believes he is pranking her. She angrily throws open the door, but no one is there. The death rattle emanates loudly through the phone in Susan's hand. She drops and breaks the phone, yet the rattle can still be heard. Cowering in the bed, Susan reches beneath the covers and pulls out the rabbit's foot phone charm from her phone and dops it in fear. A lump billows from underneath the covers and moves toward Susan. She lifts the sheets, seeing Kayako's face. She is abruptly pulled under and both dissappeared.

The Social WorkersEdit

Yoko is a girl whose work is to take care of Emma and clean the house. While picking up trash on the floor and stairs, she hears someone walking around up in the attic. Following the noise, Yoko enters a closet in the bedroom and sees a small door in the ceiling, wich leads to the attic. Using a lighter, Yoko sticks her head up through the door and slowly turns around, looking for the sourch of the sound. She eventually comes face to face with the onryo wich Kayako Seaki has now become, who attacks her, dragging her up into the closet.

Karen Davis is then called in to work at house (in Setagaya) and care for Emma after Yoko disappears. While working, Karen finds a closet that's been taped shut with cat-like noises coming from it. When she rips off the tape and opens the door, she find a little boy (Toshio). The boy refuses to come downstairs so she asks him for his name. "Toshio", he says, in atoneless, eerie voice. Emma begins stirring and muttering in the other room. As Karen calms her, a dark shadow of hair emerges from a corner of the room, terrifying Emma. Karen looks up to see Kayako reaching for Emma. Kayako's hair, wich was covering her face, flies back to reveal the whites of her eyes. The irises roll into place and focus on Karen as she backs away in fright.

Alex, Karen's boss, finally arrives to find Emma unconscius and Karen in a state of shock. Karen is taken to the hospital while dedectives question Alex. Detective Nakagawa asks Alex about the people that lived there, and tell him that Yoko has been missing from work. The detectives notice that the phone handset is missing from the cradle and push the page button. They trace the sounds to the attic where they discover the corpses of Matthew and his wife. They also make grisly discover of a human jaw and wonder to whom it belong and where the rest of the body might be. Later in the movie, Yoko is spotted again by Alex as she is shuffling down the stairs of the caretaking facility where Alex, Karen, and Yoko work. As he is walking towards her, he accidentally slips on a liquid, wich he discovers is blood when he toches it. Alex calls repeatedly Yoko, who doeas not answer in any way until he reaches the bottom of the stairs. She then turns around to reveal her face, as Alex screams in horror and dies, her face is shown to now be horribly disfigured without her lower jaw and tongue hanging out, and the screen fades to black.

Karen tells her story to detectives, emphasizing the appearance of a boy. Over the next few days, she is constantly tormeted by Kayako, in her shower, on a bus (while with Jack), etc. Frightened but determined, she start research on the history of that house on the Internet by searching in Google. Eventually, she learns of the murders from the website of a Japan Newspaper. On the same page, she also comes across the news of death of the American Professor, Dr. Peter Kirk. She now decides to know the entire history from Dr. Kirk's widow, Maria Kirk.

Detective Nakagawa becomes convinced that the rash of deaths and missing people is connected to the house when he views the entire security video taken at Susan's office building. He watches as Kayako proceeds down the hall, then to come face to face with the camera as the video fuzzes out. He the returns to the Seaki house with two cans of gasoline. He is distracted by the sound of Toshio drowning in the bath tub. He enters and finds a boy hanging out of the tub, and tries to revive him. His eyes snap open, and Takeo appears behind him. Nakagawa only has time to turn around before Takeo shoves him into the bathtub and drowns him like Toshio.

Karen questions Maria Kirk, Peter's widow, who doeas not appear to know anything about the house, its occupants, or why her husband commited suicide. She allows Karen to search through old photos. Karen discovers a living Kayako in the backround of every photograph, clearly following the couple. Karen then attempts to go talk with her boyfriend, Doug, at their apartment. However, she discovers he has gone looking for her after own investigation. Karen then returns to the house in search of Doug.

Inside the house, Karen expiriences a flashback of Peter Kirk's visit. It is revealed that Kayako was once a student of Professor Peter Kirk, and had become enamored with him. Kayako's husband, Takeo, discovers her obsession and in a fit of rage murderd her and their son, Toshio. This is the strain, the 'grudge' of the house. Karen's flashback shows Peter discovering their bodies at the house. Overwhelmed by the brutalty of Takeo's assassination of Kayako, Karen staggers downstairs and the house returns to the present time. Doug grabes her ankle before she leaves. He is incapacitated, and she tries to drag him to the door. A door opens upstairs. The onryo which Kayako has now become crawls down the stairs toward them, and gives Doug the kiss of death. Karen opens the door, but Kayako's ghost is suddenly there. She slams the door and kicks over one of the gas cans. She takes Doug's lighter and tosses it onto the gas as Doug suddenly becomes Kayako. The screen goes white. (In the director's cut, there are shots of Karen being put into an ambulance van).

At the hospital, Karen learns that the house was saved from burning and mourns Doug's dead body. Suddenly, Kayako's hair and arm comes beneath the sheet that covers him, but Karen realizes that it's just her imagination (when the hand turns normal). Kayako then appears behind Karen. As Kayako utters her death-rattle, the movie ends with an eyeshot of her.


  • Sarah Michelle Gellar as the film's main protagonist Karen Davis, an exchange student who takes a job as a care worker to obtain social studies credit.
  • Jason Behr as Doug, Karen's boyfriend, who attends the University of Tokyo, and has a part-time job working at a restaurant.
  • William Mapother as Matthew Williams, a "number crucher" who recieves a promotion from his superiors thet requiers him to relocate to Tokyo.
  • Clea DuVall as Jennifer Williams, Matthew's lonely wife who is tying to adjust to a new life in Japan.
  • KaDee Strickland as Susan Williams, Matthew's younger sister, who resides and works in Tokyo, and who helps brothe, sister-in-law and mother choose and move into their new home.
  • Grace Zabrieski as Emma Williams, Matthew's mother, who is suffering from severe lethargy with mild dementia.
  • Bill Pullman as Peter Kirk, ateacher working in Tokyo, who receives a number of love letters from Kayako, a woman he does not know.
  • Rosa Blasi as Maria Kirk, Peter's wife.
  • Ted Raimi as Alex, the director of the care centre that Yoko and Karen are stationed at.
  • Ryo Ishibashi as Det. Nakagawa, a detective whose colleagues all died or disappeared under mysterious circumstances during the investigation of the Saeki family murder case. He is all too aware of the house and its strange history.
  • Yoko Maki as Yoko, a Japanese care worker who speaks English, and is assigned to care for Emma Williams.
  • Takako Fuji as Kayako Saeki, a married woman who develops an attraction towards Peter Kirk.
  • Yuya Ozeki as Toshio Saeki, the eight year-old son of Kayako and Takeo Saeki.
  • Takashi Matsuyama as Takeo Saeki, Kayako's husband, who is angry when he discovers her feelings for another man. He murders Kayako prior to the film's events and put a curse on the house.


The film opened on 3,348 theatres in North America. The film generated $39.1 million in ticket sales in its first weekend (October 22–24, 2004). The film later declined 43% on its second weekend by earning $21.8 million, becoming the first horror film to top the Halloween box office since House on Haunted Hill. The film made US$ 110,359,362 in North America alone and a total of $187,281,115 worldwide, far exceeding the expectations of box office analysts and Sony Pictures executives. Sony also stated the film cost less than $10 million to produce, thereby making it one of the most profitable films of the year. The film received mixed reviews, earning a "Rotten" rating of 39% on Rotten Tomatoes (with 59 out of 151 film reviews counted fresh). Classic FM's film critic Simon Bates deemed it the scariest film he had ever seen.


A sequel, The Grudge 2, was announced three days after the film opened and released in 2006. The sequel stars Amber Tamblyn as Karen's younger sister Aubrey who is sent to Japan by her mother to bring Karen home from Japan.

The Grudge 3 was announced by Sony during Comic-Con 2006. Takashi Shimizu stated he initially offered to direct the sequel but preferred to [produce the film. On October 23, 2007, it was confirmed that the film would instead be directed by Toby Wilkins, who directed the short films Tales From The Grudge as promotional material for the release of The Grudge 2 in 2006. The film will be produced by Takashi Shimizu and Sam Raimi. A second draft of the screenplay has been completed, and the film could start filming as early as January 2008, depending on further script development. This will be the final film in The Grudge series. On October 31, 2007, it was revealed the film's screenplay was written by Brad Keene and the film's synopsis was also revealed. The story will follow "A young Japanese woman holds a secret to ending the curse of the Grudge. She travels to a haunted Chicago apartment building where she encounters a family battling to survive the ghosts. Together they confront the ghost of Kayako to save their souls from their impending tragic fate." On January 19, 2008 it was revealed that Matthew Knight would reprise his role as Jake, and the film would begin production in Bulgaria in March 2008. It was also revealed the film would not be a theatrical release, but direct to DVD instead.

Home releaseEdit

The film was released on DVD and UMD on February 1, 2005. The film was released as a standard version of the film with only a few special features. On May 17, 2005, the MPAA-unrated director's cut of The Grudge was released onto DVD in North America. The release included several scenes that were cut to achieve a lower rating from the MPAA, as well as others which were removed for pacing and plot reasons. This version of the film was used as the theatrical run in Japan. The release also contained new deleted scenes and commentaries, stories In a Corner, and more. It was made available to purchase on iTunes in 2008.

The film was released on Blu-ray Disc in Germany in 2008. It was released on Blu-ray Disc in the U.S. on May 12, 2009, the same day as The Grudge 3 DVD.

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