As stated by Takashi Shimizu, the film is not a remake of any Japanese film and follows a different storyline. Like its predecessor, the film features a plot that is told through a non-linear sequence of events and includes several intersecting subplots. The three main subplots include: Karen's younger sister Aubrey coming to Japan after finding out about Doug's death, a schoolgirl named Allison being hunted by the ghosts after entering the house with two of her classmates and a young boy named Jake whose apartment building is haunted by the Saeki's.
The film was announced after the release of the previous film in October 2004, due to its financial success. Shimizu was announced to return as director on January 2005 and casting begun on December, with the announcement of Gellar returning. The film was entirely shot in Japan, with Tamblyn performing re-shoots in Chicago, Illinois.
It was released in North America on October 13, 2006 (Friday the 13th), after being pushed forward a week from the original October 20 release date. It was released in the UK on October 20 and in Australia on October 26, 2006. The film received mixed to negative reviews but was financially successful. A sequel, The Grudge 3 was released direct-to-video on May 12, 2009.
In Japanese society, it is said a curse is created when a person dies in the grip of a powerful rage or sorrow. Those who encounter the evil supernatural force are consumed by it, the curse is born repeatedly and spreads. The original victims of the curse, the Saeki family, haunt their Tokyo suburban house as ghosts and kill anyone who enters. Housewife Kayako Saeki was murdered by her husband Takeo after he discovered she loved another man, their son Toshio and pet cat Mar also being murdered, before Takeo was hanged by Kayako’s ghost. In the first film, American social worker Karen Davis tried to burn the house down to stop the curse, but failed, finding herself hospitalised and haunted by Kayako. The film’s chronology is told in a non-linear fashion, taking place in 2004 and 2006 respectively.
Karen’s younger sister Aubrey is summoned by their bed-ridden mother who informs Aubrey of Karen’s situation and sends her to Tokyo to retrieve her. In Japan, Aubrey struggles to communicate with the hospital staff but a journalist named Eason aids her. Aubrey briefly speaks with Karen, who quickly panics, and has to be restrained. Karen later escapes her restraints and flees through the hospital stalked by Kayako, until she makes it to the roof which Kayako throws her off in front of Aubrey and Eason. Eason explains the curse to Aubrey, revealing he rescued Karen from the house fire, and has been investigating the Saeki murders and surrounding events. The two go to the house to retrieve Kayako’s diary, but Toshio drags Aubrey inside to curse her.
Eason takes the diary to an associate, who explains Kayako’s mother Mrs. Kawamata was an itako who exorcised evil spirits from visitors and fed them to her daughter. Aubrey and Eason plan to visit Mrs. Kawamata the next day, but at night, Eason develops photographs he took of the Saeki house, but Kayako emerges from a photo and murders him. Aubrey discovers his body in the morning and travels alone to Mrs. Kawamata’s remote rural home. Kayako’s mother warns her the curse is irreversible, and is suddenly killed by her daughter. Aubrey ventures to the house, following an image of Karen inside but encounters Takeo’s ghost who plays out the night he discovered his wife’s disloyalty, and snaps Aubrey’s neck.
Two years later, school girls Allison Fleming, Vanessa, and Miyuki, break into the house on a dare but Allison is locked in the closet and encounters Aubrey’s ghost but the girls escape. After Miyuki and Vanessa are consumed by the curse, Allison speaks with school counsellor Ms. Dale about the curse, but Dale denies its existence, revealing she went to the house and is actually a ghost herself. Allison is haunted by the ghosts of her friends, and she eventually flees back to Chicago, where she stays with her parents.
The Kimbles move into an apartment block in Chicago. A young boy named Jake is disturbed by a strange presence in the building brought about by a hooded stranger who covers windows with newspaper. Jake’s father Bill and stepmother Trish are influenced by the curse, Bill accusing his wife of having an affair but she bludgeons him with a frying pan. Jake and his sister Lacey return from school, but Jake finds his family are all dead. He runs into the hooded person, revealed to be Allison, who explains the curse followed her. Kayako appears in Allison’s hood, finally taking her, and then emerges to attack Jake.Sarah Michelle Gellar as Karen Davis, the sole, traumatized survivor of The Grudge.
Amber Tamblyn as Aubrey Davis, Karen's sister
Arielle Kebbel as Allison Fleming, a shy and emotional exchange student.
Takako Fuji as Kayako Saeki
Kyoka Takizawa as Young Kayako
Edison Chen as Eason, a journalist who is investigating the Saeki murders
Teresa Palmer as Vanessa Cassidy, the popular bully of Japan International High School
Misako Uno as Miyuki Nazawa, Vanessa's best friend
Matthew Knight as Jake Kimble, a young boy who suspects something happening in their apartment
Sarah Roemer as Lacey Kimble, a cheerleader and Jake's kind and supporting older sister
Jennifer Beals as Trish Kimble, Bill's new wife
Christopher Cousins as Bill Kimble, Jake and Lacey's father
Jenna Dewan Tatum as Sally, Lacey's neighbor and best friend
Eve Gordon as Ms. Dale, Japan International High School's counselor
Ohga Tanaka and Yuya Ozeki as Toshio Saeki
Takashi Matsuyama as Takeo Saeki, Kayako's husband who becomes angry after seeing that she has feelings for another man
Joanna Cassidy as Mrs. Davis, Karen and Aubrey's sick mother
Shaun Sipos as Michael, Miyuki's boyfriend
Kim Miyori as Nakagawa Kawamata who is Kayako's mother
Paul Jarrett as John Fleming, Allison's father
Gwen Lorenzetti as Annie Fleming, Allison's mother
The Grudge 2 was announced three days after the release of The Grudge in 2004 and was officially fasttracked after a positive box office response with the film grossing $110,175,871. In early January 2005 Takashi Shimizu suggested ideas regarding the film's plot. Ideas included the origin of the curse and new character subplots.
The film was later placed into production hell for almost a year until December 2005, when the first few cast (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Teresa Palmer) members were announced. Other production details were also revealed, including the original scheduled date for principal photography, which was due to begin January 30, 2006, but was postponed until February. Principal photography for The Grudge 2 was held at Toho Studios in Tokyo, Japan and production wrapped up on April 25, 2006. During an interview on Dread Central with Amber Tamblyn, it was reported that sets were created in Chicago, Illinois for Tamblyn to re-shoot several scenes.
Director Takashi Shimizu said in an interview with Sci Fi Wire: "For The Grudge 2, I was going for this mystery that was never there in The Grudge, and I think that's going to fulfill the audience. ... There's a secret about Kayako's childhood life, so that's part of the big mystery. And the other mystery is this grudge will never stop, and it's going to ... spread. And how is it going to get spread? That's another mystery."
He also clarified that: "The Grudge was a complete remake of Ju-on, meaning the storyline was very similar. Basically, it's the same. But Grudge 2 is actually different from Ju-on: The Grudge 2, and I don't think I would have accepted this job if it was going to be the same storyline. And because it was a different story, you know, my motivation was a bit higher, and I actually enjoy doing this."
The Grudge 2 premiered at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California on October 8, 2006. During the premiere, the theme park was open to the public and featured a Grudge 2 maze as part of its 2006 Halloween Haunt.
Sony employed various methods to promote The Grudge 2. On April 1, 2006, a teaser site was launched with details revealing the October 13 release date. Many forum sites such as IMDb were swamped with claims that Sony was playing an April Fool's joke. A few days later, the site's authenticity was proven, and claims that it was a hoax were dismissed.
On September 10, 2006, Sony released a missing persons file on its official blog stating a student filmmaker known as "Jason C" (Jason Cutler) disappeared a few weeks after visiting the set of the film. The blog originally broadcast interviews with the film's stars including Amber Tamblyn, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jenna Dewan Tatum but has been taken over by his roommate who filed the report.
On September 19, 2006, Yahoo! Movies was the first site to release three short films titled Tales from the Grudge with an introduction from one of the producers of The Grudge, Sam Raimi. The series of short expands on the story of the Saeki curse. The shorts also appear on the film's official site Sony Pictures Entertainment; fans who volunteered their mobile phone number received surprise calls from Kayako or Toshio. The films also became available on other film and horror-related websites as part of a wide-reaching and unique digital marketing strategy.
The shorts were directed by Toby Wilkins (director of The Grudge 3), and written by Ben Ketai.Part 1, "Hotel": The first in the series of shorts. It introduces Ross (played by Daniel Sykes) as he wakes up in a Tokyo hotel room and coughs up quantities of Kayako's black hair. He wakes from this nightmare to the sound of the mobile phone and answers it. The caller is his girlfriend Abby (played by Stefanie Butler), who is safe at home in the US. Ross explains that his attempts to investigate the house and the woman with long black hair have led to a dead end. When the phone call ends, we stay with Ross as he takes a photo of himself with his mobile phone. He does not notice as Kayako passes by behind him at the precise moment he takes the shot. He then sends the picture to Abby. Ross then goes to brush his teeth and finds black hair in his toothbrush before being grabbed through the mirror by Kayako.
Part 2, "School": The second short film in which we follow the story of Abby as she ends the phone call from the first short. Abby then proceeds to call her friend, Brooke (played by Ginny Weirick), to ask about plans that evening. When the call ends, Abby receives a photo message from her boyfriend Ross (from the first short). When Abby looks closer at the image, she sees that Kayako is in the hotel room with Ross. Abby attempts to call her boyfriend and warn him, but she only hears Kayako and then it hangs up. Abby looks over at the girl that was sitting beside her to see Kayako.
Part 3, "House": The third short film that overlaps during the events in "School". The film opens with Brooke (as introduced in the second short) receiving a phone call from Abby. As the call ends, Brooke agrees to play hide and seek with the child, Josh, whom she is babysitting and chooses a walk-in closet as her hiding place. Brooke soon finds herself trapped and is dragged violently into the underworld by Kayako. Josh then gets up and says "Come out, come out, wherever you are," before Brooke's cell phone begins ringing.
The Grudge 2 was released on DVD and UMD video for the PlayStation Portable on February 6, 2007. Both are available in a rated and unrated director's cut format. The unrated format is 6 minutes longer than the rated version.
Both DVD formats include the following extras:Tales from the Grudge (Region 1 only)
Cast and crew reel change montage
Holding a Grudge: Kayako & Toshio
East Meets West
Grudge 2 Storyline Development
Ready When You Are Mr Shimizu
The movie was also made available on iTunes in October 2008. A Blu-ray Disc version of the film has yet to be released.
The DVD sold $5,233,327 in its first week, much lower than the previous film's $9 million. In its second week of retail availability it sold a further $3,060,351 for a total of $8,293,678 within two weeks. It is estimated to have earned at least $15 million from home media sales since, bringing the film's total gross to $85 million.
The film opened in 3,211 theaters and was expected to generate $27 million across the October 13–15 weekend but generated $10,018,039 on its opening day and $20.8 million on its opening weekend. It placed number 1 at the box office, beating out The Departed. The film showed poor staying power and earned $39.1 million in North America, making it the first ever film to open over $20 million yet gross less than 50% of its earnings after opening weekend. It also easily set the record for lowest gross of a $20 million opener. It earned an additional $30 million internationally. The movie made $70 million worldwide.
The film was one of three films not shown to film critics on the release date (others included The Marine and One Night with the King). It received notably worse reviews from critics than its predecessor, with a rating of 10% on Rotten Tomatoes (7 out of 72 reviews counted positive) compared to The Grudge's 39%. Metacritic gave the film a score of 33/100 based on reviews from 16 critics, indicating "Generally unfavorable reviews".
The film was criticized by several critics for its confusing plot. Keith Phipps from The A.V. Club wrote, "While The Grudge 2 deserves some credit for creating and sustaining a creepy atmosphere, it doesn't matter much when the plot doesn't go anywhere." Pete Vonder Haar from Film Threat found "[t]he same problems that plagued the original are on display here. Most notably, the lack of any coherent plot." Paul Debrudge from Variety stated, "The story is incidental, as auds merely anticipate the scares." Tim Goernert from Joblo "found it really hard to follow the story as well, as there were three of them happening at the same time."
The film has also been criticised as being eye candy. Terry Lawson from the Detroit Free Press judged, "The Grudge 2 is just a mélange of images, some mildly disturbing, but mostly just variations on a theme."
During post-production on the film, Takashi Shimizu discussed ideas of creating another sequel, saying: "During the script meeting, Our ideas didn't go anywhere good, and we couldn't come up with anything interesting to stop the curse, so if that's the case, I would rather just go for something that could never be stopped. But who knows, maybe something can be stopped in The Grudge 3." During Comic Con '06, Sony officially announced plans of creating the sequel. Shimizu revealed he was offered the chance to direct the sequel but took on the role of producer instead. The film put out a casting call for new actors to play Kayako and Toshio, as Takako Fuji (Kayako) and Yuya Ozeki (Toshio) passed on the opportunity. Shawnee Smith, who appeared as Amanda Young in the Saw series, was one of the major characters in the film.