Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Film Review: Ju-on The Grudge (2002)

Ju-on: The Grudge (Review)
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes 
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...delivers creepy visuals, eerie sounds, and dreadful tension."

Ju-on: The Grudge tells the story of several characters related to a haunted house with each of their stories interconnecting. Beginning with Rika, a social worker sent to take care of an elderly woman, the haunting eventually spreads to other characters.

The basic premise of Ju-on: The Grudge revolves around the belief of a grudge -- that is, when someone dies in a fit of rage, a curse is born. Rika is sent to take care of a family that lives in a home where the Saeki family was brutally murdered before. She begins to experience the haunting, which, in turn, spreads to the others. Meanwhile, the short stories interconnect, with characters occasionally appearing in each other's story. This is not told in chronological order, by the way. The ending of the film is very effective, a chilling and haunting finale.

I probably did a poor job explaining the story, but it is complicated, so don't fault me too hard. However, if you really get into it, if you really pay attention, you should be able to grasp most of the story -- some details you'll have to receive during a second viewing. However, Ju-on: The Grudge delivers the scares, and they're actually very versatile scares. This nightmarish ghost story delivers creepy visuals, eerie sounds, and dreadful tension; the creepy visuals come from dead-pale ghosts, the eerie sounds come from Toshio's meowing and the horrible phone call croaking, while the tension comes from the subtle background movements. On that point, keep an eye on the full frame, look towards the background for some very creepy visuals you would otherwise miss.

The acting is all around great from the entire cast. Really, the cast deliver great, believable performances -- you can really see the fear in their eyes. The special effects and makeup are minimal yet very effective; Toshio and Kayako are incredibly creepy, and deliver iconic sounds and movements. The practical editing is used perfectly to setup some very effective scares. Takashi Shimizu's storytelling could use some polish as it can get confusing, and unnecessarily so. However, Takashi Shimizu's direction is fantastic as he deliberately places dread into every frame through superb screen direction and camera work.

Overall, Ju-on: The Grudge is a terrifying J-horror film -- it is unforgettable, it is iconic. However, despite being genuinely petrifying, the storytelling is obviously sloppy and flawed, and some of its innovating horror techniques may be seen as outdated today. Regardless, this is a real treat for horror fans, and definitely a must watch.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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