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Sarah Michelle Gellar - "The Grudge 2" Movie - Horror director holds no ’Grudge’

Tuesday 25 April 2006, by Webmaster

TOKYO — It may have made him rich and a name in the industry outside his native Japan at the relatively tender age of 33, but director Takashi Shimizu believes that Hollywood’s current fondness for remakes may come back to haunt it.

"Hollywood is short of good ideas — across all the genres — and also reluctant to take a chance on a film because if it’s a flop, then they lose a lot of money and are hit hard by the critics," says Shimizu, who made his U.S. debut with "Grudge" in 2004, a remake of "Ju-on," which was released in Japan in 2003. "That’s why when they find a film that has already been a big hit elsewhere, they’re confident it will work again.

"But I also think it would be a mistake for the U.S. to make too many remakes," says the rising star of Japanese horror movies. "If Hollywood becomes reluctant to be creative or take on new ideas purely because of the fear-of-failure factor, then we’ll get to the end of this boom and look back and say there were no good movies."

The irony is not lost on him, however. "Grudge" gave him his break outside Japan and earned more than $100 million at the boxoffice. And last month Shimizu started shooting the sequel in Tokyo.

Yet he was reluctant when the opportunity first presented itself.

Set in Tokyo, Sarah Michelle Gellar was cast as an American nurse who is exposed to a curse that has the ability to send its victim into a furious rage before killing them and moving on to someone else.

"The Grudge 2" will remain anchored in Tokyo, though some parts of the tale are set in Chicago and California. Something of a homebody at heart, Shimizu says he wants to shoot those scenes in Japan as well.

"It was very different, making a movie in the U.S. as opposed to working here," he says. "Over there it’s a business, and producers and financiers want more control over the film; here, there is much less outside pressure.

"It did affect the film as it finally came out, but only within the range of what I could agree to. I’m very stubborn like that, and as a director, I can’t shoot something that I can’t agree with.

"Also, I had to recognize that while I know what will work well with a Japanese audience, it might not be as effective for an audience that I don’t know, so that was another reason to be more open to input," he says.

Shimizu, who cites Steven Spielberg as his earliest influence, is hopeful that the sequel to his biggest hit so far will have a similar impact at the boxoffice.

"Hollywood’s horror movies were really a phenomenon of the 1980s and ’90s and were full of special effects and computer-generated images," he says. "Visually they were very colorful and vivid — but they were not scary because they were verging on being comical.

"Now viewers want really scary images and they have found that in Japanese horror movies," he says.