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Ju-on: The Grudge Directed by Takashi Shimizu, The Grudge follows volunteer homecare worker Rika Nishida (Megumi Okina), whose altruism leads her to Chiharu (Yui Ichikawa), a catatonic old woman slowly dying in a home filled with years worth of accumulated filth. Rika's suspicion is aroused when, during the course of her volunteer duties, she can't help but sense an overwhelming feeling of dread. Eventually, Rika opens an old wardrobe only to discover a malevolent boy who introduces himself as Toshio (Yuya Ozeki). It seems as though the house was formerly occupied by a young couple -- Katsuya (Kanji Tsuda), Chiharu's son, and his wife, Kazumi (Risa Matsuda). Sadly, Kazumi was killed thanks to Toshio shortly after moving in, and it wasn't long before Katsuya met a similar fate. When one of Rika's colleagues alerts the local authorities, an investigation turns the house inside out and exposes an ancient and deadly history. ~ Tracie Cooper, Rovi
A genuinely frightening masterpiece!
Posted by: Animeboy413 from: New York ' Ny on
let's face it . . . Asian Horror accomplishes what American Horror rarely does (even the best of it) . it gives its audience "the creeps." It exploits every iota of the uncanny . leaving its audience a sweating, quivering wreck. Nonetheless, often times, you will find a delayed reaction to these films . you'll be driving home from work and instantly feel a cold shiver . . . "Toshio? Is that you?" or worse, they appear in our nightmares . . . "Toshio? Is that you, again?" They work on a VERY deep, VERY subconscious level. Understand, there are rarely the "cheap thrills" that you find in American Horror, rarely the predictable scares . . . instead, the tension in these works builds to a skin-crawling crescendo. And Ju-On certainly is the quintessential example. (This film will show you why hiding under your covers is a VERY bad idea!!)
The prologue shows us what led to the house becoming haunted; a man who believes his wife had an affair kills her in an uncontrolled rage then kills himself. The couple's young son, who witnesses the savage act, disappears and is never to be seen again. Fast forward several years: the house is now inhabited by the Tokunaga family of three, a husband and wife and the husband's old frail mother. While husband and wife are away on a trip, the nearby welfare center sends volunteer social worker Rika to look after the house and the old mother. While cleaning the house, she witnesses ghostly apparitions that drive her away from the house. Soon after, when the tenants of the house return from their trip they too are terrorized by the vengeful spirits of the dead family.
Several factors are responsible for making "Ju-On" such an utterly scary film. Director Shimizu for one is a master at building intensity in a scene through the use of rising ominous music and creepy visuals. But the way he does it is very unique. In the vast majority of haunted house movies, it usually involves one character seeing a supernatural entity and then said supernatural entity disappearing before anyone else can see it therefore making the witness appear crazy. Not here. The ghosts here can be seen by ALL no matter what, making them seem all the more dangerous and frightening. Also, the viewer is always kept on edge since the ghost of the little boy keeps appearing in all sorts of unexpected places like in windows, mirrors and myriad reflections and corners of the screen. And then there is the house, this is just a regular-looking house in a suburb, giving the film an element of realism seldom seen in these types of movies. I find that setting the events in your average suburban house is a much more effective scare tactic since after all how many of us have ever lived or visited a giant gothic mansion? This hits much close to home.
Ju-on weaves a complex storyline with numerous continuity jumps and gaps that give it a certain Lynchian feel. Those continuity jumps are very confusing for the first-time viewer (Huh, does Rika die twice?) but it's also one of the things that makes the film stand so well to repeat viewings because it does make sense the second time around. Which is not to say the film is without its problems. Although I found very few flaws with the execution of the film, certain things simply don't make much sense such as the spirits following people in places outside of the house and also if the house is history to so many people dying of fright because of ghosts how come new tenants keep moving in? It must have a very convincing real estate agent looking after it! Still, minor misgivings for a tremendous horror film. As for the remake I'll welcome it with open arms; many on the internet have addressed resistance about the casting of Gellar as the central character. I for one believe she'll be fabulous. This is a role where looking scared is of paramount importance and Gellar has shown us time and time again in Buffy how convincingly she can put a frightened face on. And besides with original director Shimizu at the helm, what could possibly go wrong?
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
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