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THE GRUDGE 2
Terrific sequel score extends, develops material from its predecessor, adds new depth as well
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Columbia Picturs Industries, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
One of the curious Hollywood fads of recent years has been remaking Japanese horror movies. Most have been dreadful (and I must admit that the appeal of the originals somewhat escapes me) but one which did attract its share of praise was The Grudge, a film perhaps aided by having been directed by Takashi Shimzu, who had directed the Japanese original Ju-On, which itself was a remake of an earlier tv movie he had directed. Then he made Ju-On 2 in Japan - and now he's made The Grudge 2 in America, though it's totally unrelated plot-wise. It's nice to see him working so hard to avoid typecasting.
Wisely, Christopher Young - the undisputed king of horror scoring in Hollywood - was brought on board to score The Grudge, providing it with a challenging but ultimately highly-rewarding score which was very effective in the film, and made an equally-impressive album. Young's key aim then was to provide unsettling music, which he did largely within a symphonic environment, but this time round he dials up the ethnic instruments and ends up with a score which is just as effective.
The album's first two cues, "Ju-On 2" and "Hitan", are based around the first score's lovely theme, heard in the first track played by the full orchestra, returning to its more familiar piano arrangement in the second. After that, the chills come thick and fast. "Gishiki" features ominous work from the strings throughout, which provide funereal accompaniment to solos from an ethnic wind instrument (were I more intelligent, I might even tell you which one) and a terrifying burst of sampled voices in the middle. It's a fine piece indeed, showing just why Young is so in-demand in this particular genre.
"Seme" is introduced by some deep-throated singing and a flurry of wind solos before crashes and bangs threaten to bring the whole house down - it's an intense, claustrophobic, darkly brilliant piece. As with the first score, this one takes a while to grow on you - it's so well-constructed, it simply demands to be listened to in one go, and more and more is revealed each time. A piece like "Koukai" at first doesn't seem to be doing much, but the subtle approach eventually seems to be become really very beautiful in a curious kind of way, with the elegant strings and careful orchestration.
The most outwardly terrifying piece is probably "Ritsuzen", which grows and grows into a cacophonous fervour - it's so much more musical than your typical horror score, and a great deal of credit should be given to Young for that. The score gets wrapped up with "Inochi", a sumptuously dark version of the main theme. With drawn-out, highly-developed ideas, The Grudge 2 represents Young at the peak of his game and, while he would possibly rather not be doing this kind of score any more, he's so much better at them than anyone else, the pity almost seems to be that he doesn't do even more!