Ju-On - The Grudge review by The Grim Ringler
Its not easy keeping the whole Ju-On thing straight, believe me, but let me clear things up if I can. The film series began as two one-hour (approximately) movies that aired on Japanese television. The first was great, and the second was very weak, though did have a couple of good moments. The success of the first two films lead to the making of this, the feature film based on what is called in the films The Grudge.
In this, the third film in the Ju-On series we are again taken on a harrowing ride through the lives of several people who come in contact with the grudge of the title. The grudge began (as we see in the first film) with the murder of a mother, her young son Toshio, and the family cat. The father, having believed that his son was not his own but that his wife had had an affair with a man she had obsessed over since college, kills his family and thus begins the grudge, turning the house and the victims into a sort of plague of violence and horror that infects everyone that comes in contact with these things. The newest grudge begins when a young woman that works for social service checks in on an elderly woman to see how she is doing as no one has heard from her in a few days. What the woman, Rika, finds is a house in disarray and an old woman who seems dazed and in an all but catatonic state. The people she was living with, her son and daughter-in-law, gone without a trace. And so the grudge starts. As with the previous entries we are shown how the grudge passes from person to person, family to family, beginning with the old woman and her son and daughter-in-law, who had moved into the doomed house. And with them it moves to all they come in contact with and so on and so on, nothing halting the grudge as it creates more terror and tragedy. The victims will at first see only glimpses of Toshio, a pale shirtless boy with wide, empty eyes who will meow at the targeted victim, but he is but the precursor to the real horror, which is his mother. The mother, a pale woman with long black hair will either crawl on all fours towards her victims or will slowly amble towards them, head down with her long hair hanging in her face until she is upon them and reveals herself. And it is these scenes, where Toshio and his mother reveal themselves, which is the strength of the film and which stay with the viewer long after the film has ended. One such moment coming as a woman hides in her bed, under her covers, only to find that they are not as safe as she had hoped when the mother slides up the bed beneath the covers herself. The grudge plays out until it comes to Rika herself who is drawn to the house and to the source of the grudge itself, but when confronted with Toshio and his mother she survives them, seeing beneath the ghosts and to the victims they had been trapped beneath, and it is then that we see the true heart of the grudge and the root of the horror yet to come.
Ju-On, like all Asian horror is not for everyone. Very loosely plotted and dreamlike, the film is more concerned with setting a tone and feeling rather than telling a linear story. Though I have to admit that this entry is much more plotty than the pervious two. The acting is well done and the film was brilliantly shot, the director slowly revealing the moments of horror and forcing us to know what is about to happen but making us wait until it does. I also liked that this entry actually changed the nature of the grudge itself and gave more of an idea of what it was, and who it was that controlled it, which was a nice twist. The special effects are minimal but well executed as well. The greatest achievement with the film may be the use of surround sound to convey certain elements of the story, such as the guttural moan that the mother elicits as she is stalking her prey. Its truly disturbing to hear this in surround, trust me. If there is a flaw in the film it is that it is so disjointed and each story feels separate to the others, which leaves you feeling as if you are watching merely parts of a larger film. But then, this is not unusual in Asian horror so its hard to really knock the filmmakers for that.
The disc was found as an all-region via Ebay but its my hope that all three films find a release in America eventually, especially since Tom Cruise has picked up the rights to the films and plans to remake one of them here. If you are a fan of ghost stories this is about as scary as you can ask for and beats most American horror efforts. A great movie and a wonderful way to end this franchisefor now.
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