After the success of "The Ring", every studio was looking to cash in with their own Japanese re-make. Columbia Pictures and Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures set out to make an American version of "Ju-on" or "The Grudge". They got the director of the original film Takashi Shimizu to do the re-make and all things look great on paper for an epic film. Unlike "The Ring" which relocated its story to Seattle, "The Grudge" takes place in Tokyo.
When "Americanizing" a foreign film something is always lost in the translation. The cultural gaps and customs are just too big to overcome. "The Grudge" does alright in this respect but still comes up a little short. First, let me say that the movie really is scary and has a great atmosphere to it. The fact that it takes place in Tokyo is a big plus and adds to the whole experience.
The myth goes: When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage, a curse a born and consumes everybody who comes in contact with it. This is explained in a prologue.
Sarah Michelle Geller plays Karen and exchange student who lives with her American med school boyfriend Doug, played by Jason Behr. Both lead roles are miscast with Behr's part being completely useless. Gellar is no stranger to horror and she does a serviceable job, but they could've found someone better. In a bit of good casting famed Japanese actor, Ryo Ishibashi plays Detective Nakagawa who investigates the cursed house. Ishibashi played the male lead in the horror classic "Audition".
The story is structured in a way that shows how each character has encountered the house. Starting the family who bought it for there invalid mother Emma. We see what happens to her kids, then her caretakers Yoko, then Karen. They all encounter the vengeful ghosts of Kayako and Toshio. The curse is an unstoppable force of pure rage that seems to literally scare people to death. Karen researches the house and the curse and we find out the history of the family that uses the life there. She and the Detective aim to somehow stop the curse, but Kayako and Toshio are some pretty badass ghosts that are not nearly ready to give it up. The ending gives some decent scares but is pretty uninspired and ambiguous. The movie spawned a few sequels that didn't even stand up to the low standards set by the original.