For the first time ever, a Japanese horror remake is being directed by its original Japanese director. ''The studio wanted to bring Japanese taste to a Hollywood movie,'' says Takashi Shimizu through a translator. Sarah Michelle Gellar illuminates: ''In America we usually have this idea of horror movies -- the girl in the tank top, running in the woods,'' she says. ''One of the things I always loved about Japanese filmmaking is how different it is -- it's nonlinear, it leaves so much to the imagination. [Americans] like to say this movie is ''The Ring' with a house,' but it's not, it's more complicated than that.''
In a plot taken from Shimizu's 2003 creeper ''Ju-on,'' Gellar plays a caregiver in Tokyo who's sent to check in on the ultimate haunted house, where people die in a rage and leave behind a curse. Or something like that: Shimizu is wary of making things too clear in the movie. ''I thought the remake of 'The Ring' was good, but I think it had too much explanation, and that made the movie less scary,'' he says. He's also been going back and forth with Sony over how much gore the movie should have: First it was not enough, then it was too much. But he laughs it off -- ''some stupid producers!'' it turns out, is one of the few phrases he's learned to say in English.
WHAT'S AT STAKE If ''The Grudge'' is the next ''Ring,'' then Shimizu is the next Gore Verbinski, and he'd better improve those English skills fast.