NOVEMBER 21, 2008
A friend tried to get me to watch... fuck, I forget what it was, for today’s movie, but I told him that I absolutely had to watch the 2000 version of Ju-On so that I could write my review of Ju-On 2, which I watched yesterday (see the J2 review for an explanation). Which is funny, because yesterday, before all of this debacle, I was self-admiring myself for my completely lazy approach to what I watch (other than theatrical screenings, I never know what I’m going to watch until about 2 minutes before I watch it). I don’t like setting things in stone. Leave stone alone!
Anyway, now that I’ve watched this movie, and most of the sequel again, I kind of understand what is going on, but it’s still the least coherent version of the three (they got progressively easier to follow in release order; naturally, I saw them entirely backwards). Like most of the others, it’s not so much a typical narrative but instead a series of loosely connected stories revolving around a particular house in Japan. And I want to comment on that, because it’s kind of interesting how much the house truly has become the main character. You always hear filmmakers saying things like “Well, the (boat, house, can of soup, whatever) is just as much a character in this movie as (A list actor who is very much more of a character than any inanimate object).” It’s usually horseshit; the setting may be striking and well designed, but the human characters are always the most important thing. Here, not so much. The characters drift and out of the movie, most of them barely introduced before getting killed off, but at this point, I recognize just about every nook and cranny in this goddamn house. I almost suspect that if someone were to parody the movie (didn’t one of the Scary Movies do a spoof on it?) that I would instantly spot things that weren’t correct. “Hey, that wall should be tan, not light brown!”
It’s interesting to see how many things in this movie were incorporated into the US version of Grudge 2, such as the frying pan to the face and the cool scene where the girl reaches above a desk she is hiding under to get a phone. At least, I THINK that scene was in 2. I remember it happening to a hot girl that wasn’t Gellar, so it must have been, right? I dunno. Who cares. It’s a good scene, but also an annoying one, because she doesn’t answer the phone, and it continues its shrill ringing for the next 4-5 minutes. ANSWER IT!
The most frustrating thing about this movie (besides the fact that I watched half of it yesterday) was that I genuinely love the concept, and I think that if someone were to approach it as a typical narrative, it would be one of the better of its type. The US remake tried, but it still had that awkward Gellar-less middle in the high-rise. I mean, one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen in one of these occurs in this movie (when Toshio’s dad rips the teacher’s baby out of her womb, puts it in a bag, and proceeds to kick it down the street), but I was so disconnected from the characters and storylines that it didn’t even really affect me beyond going “Christ.”, which is my reaction to just about everything. Contrast that with say, Inside, where a similar idea was merely threatened, and I all but covered my eyes like a 10 year old girl.
This movie has one of the strangest plot elements I’ve seen in a while though: the idea that when someone enters the house, they should drink Sake to see if they will be affected by the ghost. I guess if they spit it out, they shouldn’t live there. Well, Sake sucks, and I’d rather spit it out than drink it no matter where I was. It doesn’t really pay off (as always, it just gets mentioned in another vignette), which sucks, because I am curious to see how it works. So what if the world’s biggest Sake lover comes into the house? Will he never die? I suspect some of this may have been mis-translated, but if not, it’s pretty odd, even within the logic of this nonsensical movie.
Well I still have the sequel to the 2003 Ju-On to watch, and of course Grudge 3 (US) is on the way. But that one is directed by Splinter’s Toby Wilkins, so I have hope for it. And apparently Ju-On 2 (2004) ends with the death of all humanity, so there’s something.
As I watched these on Fearnet, there are no extras or commentaries for me to poorly review. I kind of like this, four movies in a row without extras to take up lots of my time! I’ve even been able to watch some of my stories at work this week! 6 weeks’ ago’s episode of Heroes, here I come!
What say you?