When people turn out in droves for a scary movie with a modest budget and a catchy concept, a franchise is born.

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When people turn out in droves for a scary movie with a modest budget and a catchy concept, a franchise is born.

Even though “The Grudge,” released two years ago, seemed like a pretty self-contained fable, its opening weekend profits guaranteed a second chapter. “The Grudge 2,” the meandering sequel to the Asian horror remake depicts the same ghosts stalking new victims with a repertoire of eerie noises and contortions.

Returning filmmaker Takashi Shimizu, who first presented the premise as a direct-to-video thriller titled “Ju-on,” offers audiences another helping of cubist fright. He elaborates on the basic idea of a house plagued with vengeful spirits, a zombie mother (Takako Fuji) and child (Ohga Tanaka) killed in a murder-suicide.

Movie review1.5 stars

Showtimes and trailer

“The Grudge 2” A meandering sequel to a mysteriously popular horror remake, the film introduces us to new characters stalked by the same sadistic ghosts. Amber Tamblyn and Jennifer Beals play women whose lives are linked to the cursed house. The movie basically repeats the events of its predecessor, with some roles reversed and gore intensified. The film contains violence, sexual content and strong language. RATED: PG-13. RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes

Sarah Michelle Gellar returns only for a quick cameo visit, as “The Grudge 2” introduces us to a new heroine. Cast as the sister of Gellar’s character, Amber Tamblyn isn’t much of a match for the specters.

After the residence claimed so many lives in the first film, it would seem unlikely that anyone would want to go near the place. Yet somehow all the carnage lures even more prey there, an assortment of people whose common quality is poor judgment.

Aubrey (Tamblyn) is dispatched to Tokyo in the wake of her sister’s tragic episode at the house. While visiting her sibling in the hospital, she meets an investigative reporter, Eason (Edison Chen), who’s been tracking the curse, harboring an unhealthy fixation with the details of the case.

In a seemingly separate story, a misfit high-school girl (Arielle Kebbel) tries to win the friendship of two classmates by venturing into the scary home on a dare. A third subplot centers on a dysfunctional Chicago family whose troubles are loosely linked to the old grudge. Jennifer Beals is gleefully demented as a stepmom-turned-psycho-killer.

The domestic violence that takes place in the Chicago apartment building mirrors the first incident in the cycle of rage and brutality. Sexual paranoia, a subtle element in the original, is more blatant this time around, with sadistic scenes involving younger girls in skimpier outfits.

The new movie offers scattered variations on a theme rather than the continuation of a story. It basically repeats the events of the first film with some roles reversed and perversions intensified. For all its visual audacity, “The Grudge 2” is quite predictable in its pattern of behavior.