THE GRUDGE: JU-ON
Directed by Takashi Shimizu
Reviewed by Deep Red
Ju-on: A curse born of a grudge held by someone who dies in the grip of anger. It gathers in the places frequented by the person in life, working its spell on those who come into contact with it and thus creating itself anew.
Stars Megumi Okina as Rika Nishina, Kanji Tsuda as Katsuya Tokunaga, Shuri Matsuda as Kazumi Tokunaga, Chikako Isomura as Sachie Tokunaga, Misaki Itô as Hitomi Tokunaga, Yôji Tanaka as Yûji Tôyama, Misa Uehara as Izumi Tôyama, Takashi Matsuyama as Takeo Saeki, Takako Fuji as Kayako Saeki, Yuya Ozeki as Toshio Saeki, Chikara Ishikura as Hirohashi and Kayoko Shibata as Mariko.
A brief history:
The series began in 1998 with two shorts; Katasumi (In a Corner) and 4444444444 (Ten Fours). In 2000, Ju-on: The Curse and Ju-on: The Curse 2 were released. Then in 2002 came this film, Ju-on: The Grudge.
Ju-on: The Grudge 2 came out in 2003. Then in 2009 two sequels, Ju-on: Black Ghost and Ju-on: White Ghost were released simultaneously in Japan; each of these sequels is only about an hour in length.
Ju-on: Beginning of the End will be released in Japan this June.
There are also three American films; The Grudge (2004), The Grudge 2 (2006) and The Grudge 3 (2009).
It was also announced this year that a reboot of the American franchise is in the works.
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
As this is as much an explanation of the film as a review I’ve decided not to hold back on spoilers. If you haven’t seen it then I wouldn’t read on.
Now, I’ll be honest, it was the remakes of Ringu, Ju-0n and Honogurai mizu no soko kara (From the Depths of Dark Water) that got me interested in watching the original Japanese films, before that I’d never watched a Japanese horror film.
The Grudge: Ju-on is non-linear in structure which can be confusing. Don’t let this put you off. I’ll do my best to explain. I’ve put each titled segment of the film in bold in the order they are in the film:
The film opens with flashbacks to 1998 and the Saeki family, Takeo, Kayako and Toshio, and what happened to them.
Rika: In 2003 a social services volunteer called Rika visits a house and meets an old lady called Sachie Tokunaga. She sees a cat, a young boy, Toshio, who’s locked in a cupboard, and then a woman called Kayako, all are manifestations of the curse.
Katsuya: We now go back to one day earlier at the same house and meet the Tokunaga family. Katsuya’s wife Kazumi also sees the cat and Toshio. When Katsuya returns home he finds Kazumi on the bed in a trance. Katsuya sees the boy, Toshio, who makes a noise like a cat. Katsuya’s sister Hitomi comes round in the evening and meets Katsuya who is acting very strange and makes her leave.
Hitomi: Now we find out what happened to Hitomi. She is visited where she lives by the manifestations of Kayako and Toshio. She also receives a visit from what she thinks is Katsuya, her brother; it’s just another manifestation of the curse.
Toyama: A man visits the house and finds Rika huddled in the corner, we have now returned to Rika’s timeline. The police investigate and find the bodies of Katsuya and Kazumi. We now learn that Kayako’s body was also found in the house. Yûji Toyama was in charge of that case. He sees the manifestation of Kayako on a security monitor. Meanwhile the manifestations of Kayako and Toshio visit Rika. Yûji returns to the house to burn it down. He sees his daughter Izumi four years in the future and then Kayako, again a manifestation of the curse. Two policemen also see Kayako.
Izumi: Four years in the future in 2007, Izumi hears that Rika’s body has just been found. Izumi tells her two school friends that she was with three girls that are missing in the area and that they are now haunting her. She tells her two friends she went with the three to the house before they disappeared. Izumi is visited by the three schoolgirls, again manifestations of the curse, and then Kayako herself.
Kayako: Still four years in the future but just after Izumi’s visit to the house with the three girls, Rika is being haunted by the manifestations of Kayako and Toshio and lots of cats. Rika ends up back at the house where she sees what started the curse as the manifestation of Kayako visits her. She now meets the manifestation of Takeo Saeki.
Well, I hope that’s cleared up any confusion. This is a truly beautiful film which I actually prefer to Ringu (1998), and that’s saying something as I love that film a lot. The acting is great, it’s incredibly atmospheric and very eerie. Who can forget the death rattle noise that accompanies the presence of Kayako? Or Kayako on the stairs? Absolutely brilliant. Who can forget Toshio? There’s just so much depth to this story.
Although the plot unravels in a non-linear way I just think that makes the film all the more interesting, it’s so worth investing the time and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s about 12 years old now and it’s still worth revisiting.