Ju-on: The Grudge, 2002
Directed by: Takashi Shimizu
Starring: Megumi Okina, Misaki Ito, Takashi Matsuyama, Yui Ichikawa
This is the Japanese version; not a Sarah Michelle Gellar in sight.
Ju-on: The Grudge is actually the third instalment in The Grudge series of films, but the first to be theatrically released (after two direct-to-video releases), and is about an old curse which is created after an act so vengeful is committed, in this film’s case a man murdered his cheating wife and their child, creating the curse inside the house, which effects everyone who comes into contact with it.
As I’ve previously mentioned on the first Horrortober review, I grew up loving horror films, and watched so many from Alien to Jeepers Creepers, but Ju-on: The Grudge was the only horror film I ever watched and had to turn it off due to being afraid, and even now, some 14 years later, it is chilling. The sounds the creature makes, the appearance, the eyes, everything works well to create a truly frightening film. And one of the best things about this film is how subtle the appearances of the haunted child are. One scene I love is where a woman is in a lift and there is a small window on each floor she goes past, and after we see a woman on the first floor (who arrived too late to get into the lift) we see the child’s face. But what is so good about this scene is the lack of music. It happens again as a woman walks up the stairs and the child is in the corner looking down, the lack of jump scares or music to inform us the child is there is so scary. You can easily miss it or see something in the corner of your eye but it’s gone before you can really work it out, and that’s something I love.
As it’s a Japanese film, I’m judging on the copy I watched. I watched an official DVD release with dubbed voices, so the acting is being judged on two parts: the actors and their facial expressions and actions, and the voice acting dubbed over the top. And unfortunately but they didn’t work well together. The actors looked like they were genuinely selling the fear for the most part, but the dubbed voices over the top didn’t convey the emotions needed. The voices weren’t afraid, or confused, they were just happy all the time and it was painfully obvious listening to them that they weren’t re-enacting these voices and scenes together in a room as if they were playing out the film. The writing also wasn’t brilliant, leaving a lot of characters saying a few weird things, but for the most part it was pretty fine. This film benefits from a brilliant plot and fantastically beautiful presentation, from its editing to its visuals. The lack of jump scares and the subtleness of the child in scenes create a much more frightening atmosphere than something like Annabelle.
A brilliant film, which spawned an American remake (although if you try hard enough, you can forget that version existed), and a truly terrifying film (which is great for a celebration of horror film series). It’s a shame they watered down the series with sequel after sequel, but that shouldn’t take away from one of the scariest horror films of all time.
Plot: * * * *
Acting: * * *
Writing: * * *
Presentation: * * * * *
Overall Rating: * * * ¾