• With obvious homages to Ring, The Grudge could be accused of an element of plagiarism. That doesn't, however, detract from the fact it's a pretty decent picture, and one of the better Tartan Asia Extreme movies.

    First things first - I *love* Ring, and of course, I mean the Japanese original. That film is by far and away the greatest horror flick ever devised and goes above and beyond what I ever expected a movie to do. However, it also instigated a ready conveyor belt of substandard imitators from the same shores ready to cash in on this unique success. Dire nonsense like the hollow Dark Water, the dull and over stylised Eye, the truly pitiful Phone and the slightly bizarre Audition haven't truly come close to the level of Ring.

    Now, while Grudge isn't quite up there with the very best horror films, as far as these Asian efforts go, it's definitely one of the more effective selections.

    Megumi Okina is Rika, a volunteer homehelper. On being assigned to a family whose regular assistant is temporarily unavailable, she encounters the mother of the family who seems unresponsive. However, after a disturbing incident at the family home, Rika finds herself seemingly haunted by some kind of entity and everyone who gets involved in the case seems to endure the same trauma.

    It's a slightly convoluted story to explain, but it works pretty well on screen. As usual the Japanese acting is generally pretty bland, but a few loud screams certainly add colour.

    The main 'bad guy' seems to be some type of ghostly being, and while it doesn't utterly terrify, it definitely brings a few chills. The only real problem is we see too much of it, and not enough is left to our imagination ala Ring. This takes away a certain air mystery and fear. Moreover, the fact the entity resembles the symbolic Japanese girl with long black hair we've come to expect in the likes of Ring and Dark Water slightly detracts from notions of originality.

    However, this is redeemed by some pretty effective direction and camera-work, which aid to promote certain wrongness about what is going on.

    Perhaps a few aspects don't altogether make complete sense, but there's enough style here to paper over such cracks.

    Movies like this do go to show that when it comes to horror, the Far East have a handle over the Western world.

    It's by no means the most brilliant horror I've ever seen, but it's definitely not bad and if you're up for a chill or 2, you could do far worse.