That's the only conclusion I could come to when I finished watching this film. First off, let me start by saying that the American sequel is NOTHING like the original sequel. This sequel picks up with Yoshimi Kitada and her husband. They're traveling down the road after she had done a show where she'd been labeled as the Japanese horror queen(she had just come from the grudge house). She and her husband are discussing when she'll tell his parents that she's pregnant. Just then, he hits a black cat, killing it. He goes back to look, and as she's leaning out of the car to see, she sees instead a pair of ghostly white legs and bare feet running past the back of the car. He gets back in the car, and they get into an accident that causes her to miscarry.
Flash forward. Husband is still in the hospital, unresponsive. She is on set of a horror movie, filming. The scene is about to end with a bunch of extras coming in and seeing the actress passed out on the floor. One of the extras screams, scaring everyone. She's staring at Yoshimi Kitada, but specifically at her stomach. Kitada goes to the doctor, where she learns that she's about three months along in her miscarried pregnancy. Flash back again as she gets a job going to the original Ju-On house, where weird things happen(even in reviewing the film, I can't keep all the time changes straight). Each person who went to that house as part of the film crew also has weird things happen to them. Weird things and death also happen to people that the film crew love or come into contact with. The extra who screamed had gotten trapped in the house, and weird things happened to her. All of the people died in bizarre ways, except for Kitada, who lived to give birth to Kayako Saeki, who pushes Kitada down some stairs when Saeki is five.
It's a bizarre little film, and the individual vignettes that provide the back story are interesting in themselves. It's almost like watching a series of Night Gallery episodes with a common thread. They used Takako Fuji in this to play Kayako again. They used Ryôta Koyama to play Toshio. The really strange thing is Koyama looks almost exactly like Yuya Ozeki in the American version. The resemblance is uncanny. I can understand why Shimizu dumbed down the originals for American audiences. The lore and superstition surrounding Japanese culture is a little hard to grasp at times. However, I really think that American audiences should invest some time and energy into watching some of these Asian gems in their original forms. They are quite enjoyable, and spookier than standard American haunted house fare.
With the exception of his being at the helm of the "Hollywoodized" (semi-)remakes, it appears that Shimizu-san has concluded his popular and innovative "JUON" series with this fourth installment. I think it was a good run, but I also think Shimizu clearly saw (as most of us had) that the series had more-or-less run its course and that it was time that he looked to other things. I only wish that the "JUON" series could have gone out with more of a "Bang" instead of a champagne bottle "pop."