Director of The Grudge
“I do really like making horror movies because it's interesting because you have all these tricks to play on. It's very much fun, but I do want to go for something different. Maybe I can do different types of horror, including all these suspense or thriller type things, but the film that I really want to shoot now is a comedy.” Takashi Shimizu
Japanese film director Takashi Shimizu is best known in America for directing the commercially successful “The Grudge” (2004), the remake of the Japanese horror “Ju-on: The Grudge” (2002), which Shimizu directed and wrote. He also directed the 2006 sequel “The Grudge 2” and executive produced the 2009 direct-to-video installment “The Grudge 3.” Starting out as an assistant director in Japanese television in the mid 1990s, Shimizu began the “Ju-on” series in 2000 before spawning a theatrical remake, “Ju-on: The Grudge” (2002) and its sequel, “Ju-on: The Grudge 2” (2003). He picked up a Screamfest Award and a Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival nomination for “Ju-on: The Grudge” and “Ju-on: The Grudge 2,” respectively, and a Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival nomination for “The Grudge.” He also won a 2005 Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film Award for “The Stranger from Afar” (2004).
Childhood and Family:
Takashi Shimizu was born on July 27, 1972, in Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture, Japan. He majored in drama at Kinki University before attending the Tokyo Film Seminar (now the Film School of Tokyo), where he studied under Japanese filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa.
The Stranger from Afar
Takashi Shimizu began his film career in 1995 when he served as an apprentice in the props department on a Kohei Oguri film. While independently working as an assistant director on a number of television dramas and video titles, he went to a film school in Tokyo at nights. He did not attract the attention of his professor, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, until he completed his short for his student project in 1998. The film opened the door for Shimizu to work with a Kansai TV producer, thanks to a recommendation from Kurosawa. Shimizu was then hired to make two three minute shorts for “Gakkô No Kaidan G” called “Katasumi” (“In A Corner”) and “4444444444.”
Entering the new millennium, Shimizu scored success with the direct-to-video film “Ju-on” (2000), which was a story about a man who killed his wife and son in a jealous anger. Co-produced by Takashige Ichise (producer of “Ringu”), the horror film was popular and well received for a low budget film. Its sequel, “Ju-on 2,” was released soon after in Japan with Shimizu keeping his duty as director and writer. Also in 2000, Shimizu wrote and directed the video documentaries “Shin rei bideo V: Honto ni atta kowai hanashi - kyôfushin rei shashin-kan” and “Shin rei bideo VI: Honto ni atta kowai hanashi - kyôfu tarento taikendan.”
In 2001, Shimizu made his feature directing debut with “Tomie: Re-birth” (2001), from the Japanese horror film franchise “Tomie,” which is based on Junji Ito's popular series of the same name. He followed it up directing “Ju-on: The Grudge,” the third entry in the “Ju-on” series and the first film theatrically released. The film premiered at the Screamfest Film Festival in the United States in October 2002, where it won the Festival Trophy for Best Foreign Film. It was released in Japan on January 25, 2003, and was shown at various festivals throughout 2003 to 2004, including the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Hamburg Fantasy Filmfest, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the Bergen International Film Festival, to name a few festivals. The sequel, “Ju-on: The Grudge 2,” followed on August 23, 2003, and earned the director a Best Film nomination at the 2003 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival. Both “Ju-on: The Grudge” and “Ju-on: The Grudge 2” were a commercial success in Japan and other Asian countries.
Eventually, Shimizu came to the attention of Hollywood filmmaker Sam Raimi, who asked him to recreate his film in English. Directed by Shimizu and scripted by Stephen Susco, the American remake of “Ju-on: The Grudge,” titled “The Grudge,” was released in North America on October 22, 2004, by Columbia Pictures. The movie starred Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jason Behr. It received mixed reviews from critics but earned a Saturn nomination for Best Horror Film from the 2005 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, and a Best Film nomination at the 2004 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival.
Still in 2004, Shimizu directed the Japanese horror film “Marebito” (“The Stranger from Afar”), which gained a limited release in the U.S., and was shown at the 2004 Seattle International Film Festival, the 2004 Venice Film Festival, the 2004 Raindance Film Festival, the 2005 Deauville Asian Film Festival, the 2005 Mar del Plata Film Festival, the 2005 Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Films, where he won a Golden Raven Award, the 2005 Munich Asia Filmfest, the 2005 Frankfurt Asia Filmfest and the 2006 Dejima Japanese Film Festival. He also directed an episode of “Dark Tale of Japan” called “Blonde Kaidan” and two episodes of “The Great Horror Family” (all 2004).
In 2005, Shimizu directed and co-wrote “Reincarnation” (“Rinne”), the third film in producer Takashige Ichise's six part “J-Horror Theater” series after “Infection” and “Premonition.” The film premiered at 18th Tokyo International Film Festival on October 27, 2005. In the U.S., it was theatrically released as one of the eight films in the nationwide film festival “After Dark Horrorfest,” which ran from November 17 to 21, 2006.
Shimizu made his return to Hollywood with the 2006 sequel “The Grudge 2,” starring Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel, Jennifer Beals and Sarah Michelle Gellar. The film was released in North America on October 13, 2006, and the United Kingdom on October 20, 2006, and received primarily negative reviews from critics. Shimizu also directed the Japanese fantasy film “Ten Nights of Dream” (“Yume jû-ya”), which premiered at the 2006 Tokyo International Film Festival on October 22.
Next up for Shimizu, he co-directed the TV miniseries “Kaiki Daisakusen - Second File” (2007) and wrote and directed “Rokku hantâ Iemon” of the film “Yûrei vs. uchûjin 03” (2007, “Ghost vs. Alien 03”). In 2008, the filmmaker appeared in front of the camera as an actor in the Japanese action film “Tokyo Gore Police,” which was directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura. It was his second appearance after a part in the 2007 video short “Meatball Machine: Reject of Death.” He went on to have a featured role in the 2009 action comedy “Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl.”
The sequel “The Grudge 3” was released straight-to-video in the U.S. on May 12, 2009, with Toby Wilkins taking Shimizu's place as the director. Shimizu contributed to the film as a producer, with Sam Raimi. Also in 2009, Shimizu directed the Japanese movie “The Shock Labyrinth 3D,” wrote and directed “Hijoshi zukan” (“What Girls Want”) and directed the TV series “The Ancient Dogoo Girl” (“Kodai shôjo Dogu-chan”). The following year, he scripted and directed the TV series “Soil” (“Soiru”). Shimizu is currently the co-director (with Christopher Doyle) of the upcoming Japanese horror movie “Rabbit Horror 3D,” which is set to be released in 2011.
Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film: Golden Raven, “The Stranger from Afar,” 2005
Screamfest: Festival Trophy, Best Foreign Film, “The Grudge,” 2002