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Sarah Michelle Gellar briefly reprises her role as the requisite English-speaking heroine tortured by ghosts, before passing the torch to Amber Tamblyn, who ably switches between the two expressions the story requires of her: weepy despondency and mouth-agape shock. Credit where credit is due: There is no terrible acting in this film, making it a waste of several perfectly adequate performances.

The Grudge 2 doesn't make a lick of sense, a shortcoming that might be forgivable if there were any true suspense or genuine horror in the entire first hour. Stephen Susco's script attempts to juggle three tenuously connected storylines and succeeds in dropping them all. Things only really get moving in the abbreviated third act, by which point you're bound to be angry at the screen because you'll realize that for some inexplicable reason, the story has been configured to put the MacGuffin at the end.

Meanwhile, the encounters with the implacable spirits--which are, after all, the reason for the film's existence--are staged by Shimizu as if he's a magician who's gone to elaborate lengths to set up a trick and then not bothered to perform it. It's fine to leave the audience wondering why things are happening, but it's uncharitable to leave them wondering what happened.

It was only as the credits rolled that I finally had an inkling of why these ghosts are so rabidly irked: If I was a ghost trapped in this movie, I'd be pretty angry too.