Hey all, Happy New Year! A very timely wish if I do say so myself!
(Hypothetical Reader: Um, New Years Day was like, four weeks ago. We are too far into the year for that kind of greeting. You’re late, bro!)
Never too late to fulfill a resolution! Remember that time I reviewed the short two movies from Japanese TV, Ju-On: The Curse and Ju-On: The Curse 2 and I promised to review the full-length film that continued the Ju-On series? Lately, I’ve been getting several hits for those reviews at this blog. Since that is the case, I’m going to review the feature length film that arose from these “Curse” movies. So… resolution fulfilled!
(Hypothetical Reader: Dude, that was two years ago when you wrote those reviews and made that pledge. How long does it take you to make good on your promises?)
It does take me a while , doesn’t it? I hope you don’t hold a “Grudge” on me! (Get it? Ha Ha Ha!) But I’ll tell ya, the kind of grudge at work in the 2002 Japanese film Ju-On the Grudge is not to be trifled with. It is scary and deadly. It affects the innocent – people that had nothing to do with whatever offense it was that spawned such a grudge, those unfortunate ones that happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. That “wrong” place is a house in Nerima, Tokyo. The “wrong” time is anytime after a certain murderous tragedy took place on the premise. See readers, this affliction that haunts and claims the victims of this movie is more of a “curse” than a “grudge”, although I’m told the English translation of “Ju-On” is “Curse/Grudge”. A “grudge” , as per the movie, is negative energy in action; or, in reaction. Let’s assume there are scientific laws governing a body of supernatural physics. There is a steady harmony of body and spirit, life and death. The living go about their business and the dead stay dead, their spirits at peace in whatever plane of afterlife existence there happens to be. A horrific tragedy perpetuated with evil intentions can upset this balance. Evil and horror beget evil and horror. In the film, the negative energy is attached to a house, where a mother, her little boy, and the family cat had been savagely murdered by a jealous husband/father. Those who enter the house are susceptible to the negative energy that exists in the wake of this tragedy. It attaches to them. Can they rid themselves of this negative energy by leaving the house? Fat chance! “The Grudge” is part of them now and it follows them wherever they go. Go to work and it will haunt the office. Go to school and it will be there too. Go home? That home will now be haunted.
How do you know if you’ve been affected by this grudge? Well, if suddenly, there just happens to be this strange, creepy little boy with bluish skin running in the halls of your home, then the grudge is imminent. This creepy boy might open his mouth in a circle and release a disorientating creaking sound. Or he might mew like a cat. You might also encounter a young, undead woman crawling down the stairs, bending her limbs in unnatural ways. The boy would be Toshio, the woman Kayako, the ones murdered by their father/husband. The murdered cat is there too, mewing from Toshio’s mouth, or from the phone. Be careful of the calls you accept. If these crawling, creeping undead things catch you, you are toast. Your body will become theirs and will disappear from mainstream life. You will become such an abomination.
We the viewers of this film witness such an unfortunate scenario play out near the film’s beginning. A family owns/occupies the house that once belonged to the murdered family. The aging mother-in-law is no longer mentally fit to care for herself. She sits on the floor and mostly does nothing but stare vacantly.. This is what “The Grudge” did to her. A woman from social services pays her a visit , checks on her well-bring. Where is the old woman’s son and daughter-in-law? “The Grudge” has already claimed them. And the poor lady from social services, she will be taking a ghost or two home with her.
Ju-On: The Grudge is divided into several segments. Each segment, each story, focuses on a different character; all are victims of “The Grudge”. Every story is named after the character that receives the focus. Ju-On: The Curse 1 & 2 follow the same format but mercifully, Ju-On: The Grudge presents these stories (mostly) in chronological order. “The Curse” movies don’t, and it’s a real pain in the you know what trying to figure out what’s going on. I do admit, however, that this out-of-sequence story telling adds an unsettling element to what are intentionally disturbing films, so in this way they provide a continuity of mood.
Is it necessary to watch Ju-On: The Curse 1 & 2 before watching Ju-On: The Grudge? I say no. Ju-On: The Grudge does a quick rehash of some of the events in the previous two films, enough to keep viewers up to speed. But the earlier films devote more detail to story of the tragedy that began this whole curse/grudge business. They are most certainly worth viewing, but Ju-On: The Grudge is the best of the three. It is the culmination of “The Curse” films. The effects are better, the undead things are creepier, and it just seems the most confident of the three. I believe “The Curse” movies were accidental hits for director/creator Takashi Shimizu. Because of this, perhaps he had more of a budget, studio cooperation, etc. when it came to making Ju-On: The Grudge.
Ju-On: The Grudge makes my list for top 50 horror movies of all time. I believe it’s either in the teens or the twenties, I’d have to recheck. Oh fine, I’ll check right now. I’ll find the link to the list and….here it is – Top 50 horror Films. Oh! I see now that I have it at #32. Well, it makes the list and that’s what’s important. It’s a great film and like other Japanese or Korean Horror films, it achieves scares in a way that Hollywood horror films struggle with. This film (like several other Asian horror movies) has a built-in flair for all things creepy. Maybe it’s the detail devoted to the ghosts, or maybe it’s the wise abandonment of cliché plots and over-hyped character types. Perhaps it’s the balance of mood and in-your-face scares. Whatever it is, Ju-On: The Grudge works well.
Ta da! I have finished my review of Ju-On: The Grudge. Did I do good?
(Hypothetical Reader: You do know there are more movies to the series, like Ju-On: The Grudge 2, and several others. Are you going to review them?)
Yes I know of these. I didn’t watch them, so probably no.
(Hypothetical Reader: Also, there is the American version, also directed by Takashi Shimizu, simply called “The Grudge.” Shall we expect a compare and contrast article soon?)
Sigh! I didn’t see the American version. I should watch it and…will I write about it? Oh I don’t know! I really don’t. Oh please, for now, just let me be!