Hey, do you like pale, creepy kids who make weird clicking noises and occasionally screech like cats? How about weird hair that pours out of the walls? Okay, one more thing: Do you like ghost stories in which the only logic as to what's going on is "Well, they're ghosts. They can do some pretty crazy shit." Yes? Well, writer-director Takashi Shimizu has just the film for you. In fact, he's got a bunch of them. Since conceiving Ju-On, Shimizu has made two direct-to-Japanese video versions, two Japanese theatrical versions, one American remake called The Grudge, and now a sequel to that remake. Some people never run out of ideas. Others never run out of ways to recycle them.


That wouldn't matter so much if the franchise, which already felt tired by the time it reached American shores, didn't seem exhausted now. In The Grudge 2, Shimizu tries out his same old tricks on Amber Tamblyn, who stars as the sister of the character played by Grudge star Sarah Michelle Gellar (who cameos, less than magnetically). Meanwhile, off in some other corner of Tokyo, Arielle Kebbel is haunted by some unhappy spirits after she visits the haunted house Gellar tried to burn to the ground in the first movie. And in Chicago, another family, headed by Jennifer Beals, discovers that the ghosts have the ability to cross the ocean to experiment with breaking into the American market.

After many scenes of ghosts appearing in shadows, popping out of mirrors, and materializing in videotapes and photographs, Shimizu brings all the strands together—badly, and after a lot of padded exposition filled with lines like "I have a friend who's really into folklore. I think he can help us." While the film deserves some credit for creating and sustaining a creepy atmosphere, it doesn't matter much when the plot doesn't go anywhere, and here, it winds toward the most arbitrary, nonsensical final scene in recent memory. But, hey, they're ghosts. They can do some pretty crazy shit.