American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"The Grudge" has a great opening scene, I'll grant you that. Bill Pullman wakes up next to his wife, greets the day from the balcony of their bedroom, and then -- well, I, for one, was gob-smacked. I'm not sure how this scene fits into the rest of the movie, but then I'm not sure how most of the scenes fit into the movie. I do, however, understand the underlying premise: There is a haunted house, and everybody who enters it will have unspeakable things happen to them.
These are not just any old unspeakable things. They rigidly follow the age-old formula of horror movies, in which characters who hear alarming sounds go to investigate, unwisely sticking their heads/hands/body parts into places where they quickly become forensic evidence. Something attacks them in a shot so brief and murky it could be a fearsome beast, a savage ghost -- or, of course, Only a Cat.
The movie, set in Japan but starring mostly American actors, has been remade by Takashi Shimizu from his original Japanese version. It loses intriguing opportunities to contrast American and Japanese cultures, alas, by allowing everyone to speak English; I was hoping it would exploit its locations, and become "Lost, Eviscerated and Devoured in Translation."
An opening title informs us that when an event causes violent rage, a curse is born that inhabits that place, and is visited on others who come there. We are eventually given a murky, b&w, tilt-shot flashback glimpse of the original violent rage, during which we can indistinctly spot some of the presences who haunt the house, including a small child with a big mouth and a catlike scream.