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The Grudge 2 Takes Minimalist Approach to VFX

Takashi Shimizu, director of the hit sequel THE GRUDGE 2, exclusively tells VFXWORLD that he used visual effects minimally in order to enhance the haunted house type of scares in the film. While I dont think its a good idea to rely on visual effects too much, I really like using them effectively, the director said. Ever since I was a kid, I have always enjoyed movies with visual effects, and they have given me great inspiration. But nowadays, Hollywood movies (especially those big budget films) depend on CGI too much, and even if a wizard flies in the sky, a gigantic monster demolishes the town, or it was shot from a crazy angle, the audience cant get excited any more and just thinks, Oh, it was done with computers. We used to be more affected, shocked and intriguedWow! How can they do this? Does a creature like that really exist? How did they film it?

A lot of recent movies rely on visual effects too much and seem to neglect other filmic elements, such as plots, characters and actors performances, he continues. I think that the advance of the visual effects technique itself is a wonderful thing, so we have to examine closely when and how we should use it, depending on the type of the particular film. Otherwise, it just becomes a movie with gaudy decorations, and our original purpose gets lost. Especially when working on horror movies, we must be extra careful with the usage of visual effects, since our job is to give reality to the fear that essentially doesnt exist in real life. As soon as the audience thinks, Oh, its CGI, even unconsciously, the level of their fear drops way down.

In keeping with his mandate for less is more, Shimizu only employed a staff of six visual effects artists for the film and respectfully declined to detail the scenes where digital effects were incorporated in order to keep the mystery alive for audiences. I hope for my audience to feel this artificial fear close to their everyday life, he adds. I want them to carry the fear back into their life after watching my movie in a theater, so they are scared of going to the bathroom or staying home alone. This is the difference between the momentary surprise and psychological scare. Besides, if we do things that are away from real life too much, the movie just becomes sci-fi or fantasy. THE GRUDGE 2, a Sony release, is in theaters now.

Reported by Tara DiLullo