Thursday, October 17, 2013

Film Review: Ju-on 2 (2003)

Ju-on: The Grudge 2 (Review)
Japan/2003
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...the sublime style really has your eyes scanning every frame for ghostly images you would otherwise miss."

The curse continues as a TV show begins filming at the haunted house in Nerima. The curse begins haunting Kyoko, an actress deemed "queen of horror," as well as the TV show's director, hair stylist, and an extra.

Ju-on: The Grudge 2 (or Ju-on 2) continues the curse with the same fragmented storytelling as the previous installments. Anyone that enters the haunted Nerima home suffers the same fate -- a disturbing haunting leading to an inevitable death. This plot is more of the same. The stories of the different characters interconnect, and you have to piece them together -- again, it is not told in chronological order. Basically, you see each character and their respective haunting, which are a bit more unique this time around; for example, one has a great foreshadowing, and another has a character stuck in a nightmarish loop. The story ends with another chilling finale.

Ju-on 2's story is somewhat difficult to follow, but you should be able to grasp most of it during your first viewing; this is a film that benefits from multiple viewing for multiple reasons. The scares consists of creepy visuals, disturbing sounds, and some great suspense; there are plenty of jump-scares, as well. There are some very creative scenes in this installment, which use effectively creepy foreshadowing. There is also a more evident use of computer effects during some scenes -- they work well, but they may be seen as cheesy for those expecting spectacular computer effects. I also like the strong use of subtle background visuals, which is another reason to watch the film again -- the sublime style really has your eyes scanning every frame for ghostly images you would otherwise miss.

The acting is great. The cast know how to deliver genuine emotions of fear through their voice tones and facial expressions. The ghosts are the same as the previous installment, and they are fortunately still creepy; they are used in more creative ways as well, although some don't look great. Takashi Shimizu's writing is still unnecessarily complicated, but his scares are well placed and balanced. Shimizu's direction is still very good as he pulls a lot from his cast, and develops great suspense for his scares -- his sublime style is also superb, as usual.

Overall, Ju-on 2 is a very good installment in the Ju-on series -- a creepy, haunting horror film with much to offer. It is, however, more of the same, which may drain some viewers, and does not fix the narrative problems of the previous installments; if you're a fan of this style of storytelling, you'll enjoy it, if you didn't like it the first time around, you'll despise it. Aside from these potential issues, and despite being genuinely scary, Ju-on 2 also lacks the impact of the first film.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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