A surprise hit at the box office last Halloween, The Grudge follows in the footsteps of The Ring as an American remake of a Japanese horror film. While the Americanized Grudge is likely to appeal to a broader audience than the superior Japanese film entitled Ju-on, this is still a film for hardcore horror fans.

One thing that sets The Grudge apart from most remakes is that both the Japanese and American versions share the same director. That unusual behind-the-scenes decision pays off onscreen with some welcome tweaking of traditional horror formats including a nonlinear storyline and greater emphasis on atmosphere and tension.

Although the plots are essentially the same (a house cursed by the spirits of a family who met a tragic end), the American version features a largely Hollywood cast that includes Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr and Bill Pullman.

The DVD presentation is well done with a suitable amount of bonus material. The commentary track is a bit crowded with five actors (including Gellar), two producers and the screenwriter participating. The director, who doesn’t speak much English, is notably absent. There are five featurettes that can be watched together as an informative mini-documentary on many aspects of the making of the film. There’s also an unusual featurette that takes a medical look at fear response in audiences for scary movies.

A word of warning to anyone thinking about buying the DVD: the producers reveal on the audio commentary that an unrated director’s cut will be released in the coming months. It promises to be even scarier and will likely be a must-have for Grudge fans.

DVD Grade: B

The Grudge is currently available.