Ju-On:The Grudge (2003) – Takashi Shimizu

I remember watching both the original Ringu and Ju-On, so it was fun to revisit them on the 101 Horror Movies list. And I still stand by my belief that little kids that make cat noises are creepy, and women should not let their hair hang down in front of their faces and crawl around on the floor with scary bone-cracking sounds preceding them.

The film is written and directed by Takashi Shimizu, who wrote the American remakes as well. They didn’t have the same creepiness for me, so I was quite happy to go back to the source.

At it’s heart the film is a haunted house story, with ghosts who spread their curse, and I bet sooner or later, much like the suggestion at the end of Ringu, is that it spreads everywhere – all because two innocents were murdered. Maybe the mother wasn’t innocent though, we never find that out for sure. It doesn’t justify murder of course, but there it is.

There is a wide cast of characters, and the movie occasionally shifts around in time to follow them and tell their story. It can be a little tough to follow now and then, but that just means you have to pay attention.

ju-on-the-grudgeThere are some really spooky moments in the film, the one that is truly disturbing is when one character is laying in her bed, and the creepy dead boy, Toshio (Yuya Ozeki) is sitting on the foot of her bed, while his mother, Kayako (Takako Fuji) is standing behind the bed’s headboard bent over looking down on her. Imagine trying to sleep like that!?

Asian horror for some reason has always been able to get under my skin, though for the most part it’s not always graphic in its blood and violence, it’s just spooky when these ghosts just start popping up in places, like under tables, or under the bed covers with you, or in a reflection. I don’t know what it is, but I love a good Asian horror film, and I’ll end up watching a bad one to avoid watching a crappy North American one.

juon1 (1)The house, in this movie, has a secret and anyone who goes into it is bound to meet trouble. Rika (Megumo Okina), her friends, an ex-cop, a couple of fresh cops, some school girls, it just keeps spreading. That’s an unnerving thought, and I love ideas like that. In the end, although all Toshio and his mother want to do is have the truth known about their fates, revealing the truth inevitably leads to the death of the ones they encounter.

If you don’t get into the film, you can sit there and giggle at the white make-up used on the ghosts, the musical stings when something spooky happens, the bone-crack noises or fingernail scraping and tapping sounds that accompany the spirits.

If you do get into it, then it can really get to you. I know it did the first time I watched it. I kept wandering around talking to anyone who would listen to me about any of the sequences that happen on the staircase. Gah!

What did you think of it? What are some of your fave Asian horror films?



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