Get ready for déjà vu: the J-horror remake bandwagon rolls on in The Grudge 2, the latest reworking of Takashi Shimizu's over-familiar franchise. Aubrey (Amber Tamblyn) is in Tokyo to bring traumatised sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) home after the events of The Grudge, but she's slowly drawn into the curse of lank haired ghost girl Kayako (Takako Fuji). Low calorie horror, it's propped up by set-piece shocks familiar from any of the other five incarnations of Ju-On: The Grudge.
While The Ring was a dark, supernatural psychodrama with a strong sense of dread, the Grudge films are more like shock showcases, designed simply to make you jump. Comparing the two franchises is like comparing Edgar Allen Poe with a funfair ghost train. Here Shimizu reveals both his expertise and his limits. Characters are perfunctory, Gellar and Tamblyn quickly sidelined by interconnected storylines in which schoolgirl Allison (Arielle Kebbel) is haunted and a family in the US comes into contact with the curse.
"TRIES TO MATCH THE DREAD OF THE RING"
There are some chilling J-horror moments: a love hotel rendezvous with an extra participant; a girl vomiting milk; a photographer developing a deadly picture (surely everyone in Japan uses digital?). Padding out Kayako's origins and extending the curse overseas, The Grudge 2 tries to match the apocalyptic dread of The Ring and Kairo. Yet neither its director nor its ghosts can hack it. They may want to rule the world, but they only kill about 15 people in 90 minutes. No need to worry just yet then...