An American nurse (Gellar) in Tokyo is assigned to care for an elderly woman. In the eerie house she discovers a vengeful curse that haunts anyone who passes the threshold. To stop it she must discover the source of the ghostly anger that has already claimed too many victims.
The initial reaction to hearing that Takashi Shimizu has remade his own Japanese cult hit for a Western audience is: why bother? While spooky, the first of the Ju-On series came off as merely a cheap imitation of Ringu, failing to spark the same positive international reaction as its frightening forebear.
Shimizu hasn't vastly improved on the original, but he has refined it, making it its own shivering entity rather than a pale imitation. Stephen Susco's script simplifies the plot while fleshing out the characters (although Gellar's frowny nurse could still have done with a bit more on her bones) and crafting a more satisfying resolution.
The terror is upped without relying on too many clichés - we'll let the odd cat in a cupboard slide - and while the harsh, clinical look and lack of humour may not appeal to everyone, it keeps the dread simmering, with the cast in a permanent state of uncomprehending panic rather than screechy horror.
It's in the set-pieces, rather than the story, that The Grudge really works, and the best of these cleverly subvert the usual horror havens - daylight, public transport, your big, snuggly duvet - so that the scares reverberate long after the final jump.
A lean, atmospheric and acutely creepy little horror pic - nothing more, nothing less.