Interview : Takashi Shimizu

Clint Morris talks to the “Grudge 2″ director


Having already directed the original Japanese film of which The Grudge 2 is inspired – as well as sequels to the horror classic – you’d think filmmaker Takashi Shimizu would be tired of making movies about freakish pale-faced long-haired demons of the dark? Not so, as CLINT MORRIS discovers.

Amber Tamblyn and Arielle Kebbel were saying that there was a bit of a language barrier sometimes…. Did you find that?
It might be a little challenging for them, but in fact for me I’ve done Grudge 1 so I know how long it’s gonna take to have actors understood what I want, especially like with Sarah [Michelle Gellar]. I have that experience, so for myself I really didn’t feel that much.

Did you have to change your style to direct American actors, though?
Well [with my] directing style, I don’t really make many changes. I always like to have a great relationship with the actors and actresses. The American actors and actresses, they might find it difficult to work with somebody who doesn’t speak English, and it may be difficult to communicate, but for me as far as directing styles – I don’t really a change.

What’s with this ‘water’ thing that seems to pop up in Japanese horror films?
In the traditional Japanese horror stories, called Kaidan, the water plays a very important role. Perhaps because the water is origin of life. But I don’t really become so conscious about using water. As far as the children are concerned, children and elderly – sometimes we don’t know what they are thinking. Maybe it’s hard to understand them. So my idea is that what if they are some place, somebody that we don’t really understand, somebody who scares us. Maybe that’s why that makes a very interesting story. That’s why we use children and elderly people. I sometimes feel the distance between us, between children, elderly and us, that we probably don’t understand what they’re thinking at that moment.

Is Grudge 2 the same as Ju-On 2?
That is a good a question because that was the most challenging part of my work this time. Basically the storyline is very, very different. You can’t really compare it. In small bits and pieces you find similarities, but basically they’re very, very different movies.

What do you think of Hollywood remaking all these Japanese horror films?
In fact, I love the American people to watch the original movies as well. But it’s a quite delicate balance between the business and creative side. Even though I’ve done remakes, I’m doing remakes, we shouldn’t continue doing remakes because otherwise we’re not going to create something new. When we run out of ideas, then Hollywood is at risk. Doing a remake is a very sensitive decision business-wise, but I don’t think it is the only way to make films. I also have to think about a new ideas and new movies, and that’s what Hollywood should do.

Who are you favourite filmmakers?
Well when I was 10 I saw E.T. That’s the movie that I decided I want to be a filmmaker. I love Spielberg. I liked his Jaws, as well. I also like Stanley Kubrick…and the British director Mike Leigh. Those are the directors that I believe influenced me. But these are not horror movies!

And Sam Raimi?
I wanted to add his name [to my list]! Actually, I couldn’t watch any horror films until junior high, but then I started having an interest in horror films [because of] his movie Evil Dead. I feel very honoured to work with him. [He] made such great films so I’m very lucky and very happy that I worked with him.

Any juice left in the Grudge franchise?
I don’t want to discuss too much, but I have other ideas. I’d like to do other movies, as well. I tried to make other films, but the timing is a little bit strange. I asked to do the next Grudge so I’ve been missing the opportunity to do others. But I really like to make other films, as well. Actually, I don’t really know if there will be a part three. We’ve been talking about it. I don’t know whether I’d be a director. I’d like to keep the unique tone of Ju-On so in any event, I’d like to get involved as a producer, or writer, maybe director… We don’t know yet, but I’d like to be part of it. But I’d like to look forward to producing Grudge 3.