Ju-On (2003)

AUGUST 29, 2007


The release of the American remake of Ju-On, called The Grudge, nearly ended my desire to go to the movies. The kids in the audience were so fucking annoying, I am still amazed I got out of there without bludgeoning one of them with a Milk Dud (it’s possible). Suffice to say it wasn’t an enjoyable theater experience, and I was so irritated I still to this day have no idea if I actually liked the movie or not. I don’t think I did though, so I was in no rush to watch the Japanese original that the film was based on (itself a remake – confused yet? I aren).

This was more or less confirmed while watching Ju-On today. It’s a movie with almost zero plot and yet told in a needlessly confusing manner. Following multiple timelines, characters who don’t get introduced into well over an hour into the film, and ghosts with apparently no ‘rules’ seems like a lot of work for a movie that essentially boils down to “if you go into this house you’ll die”.

That’s not to say the film is horrible, but when you consider that there is something like 834 versions (and respective sequels) of this movie, I would think it should be a compelling and unique enough story to warrant all the attention. But it’s not. And besides, I’ve gone on record with how un-scary I find the idea of little Japanese kids looking at me and croaking.

Still, there IS a strange sort of appeal to the film. I think it’s probably due to the fact that the film is essentially an anthology film, so no character really wears out their welcome. And since everyone dies, and it becomes more of a matter of WHEN they will die, there is some minor suspense to be had when they are in danger (unlike say, Ob-Ewan McGregor in the prequels, who was constantly in danger we knew perfectly well he would escape from). “Will they die here, or in the next scene?” Usually it’s the former, and then another character comes along.

The DVD has an odd extra: a commentary by Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel. Raimi produced the remake; Spiegel I guess just had nothing better to do. They chat about horror movies in general, how much they like this movie, and offer some delightfully bad puns throughout (“I married my wife for her looks, just not the ones she’s been giving me lately”), making it worth a listen. Spiegel needs to brush up on his IMDb though, attributing Cat People to John Carpenter (???). They also contradict themselves, saying at one point that when a horror film gets too complex that it becomes harder for an audience to be scared, and then marveling at how the audience is expected to figure out most of the film’s timeline and plot threads themselves a few minutes later.

There’s also some deleteds and interviews, but I had no interest.

What say you?


  1. I liked it just because I saw "the Grudge" first and it was so god-awful that Ju-On looked like a cinematic masterpiece.

  2. The Ju-On series wore itself out by repetition even before being watered down for Americans, but I really dug the ORIGINAL originals (sounds like a Spinal Tap bit), that I think were made for TV or something in Japan. Very scary weird stuff, with the croaking lady and the missing jaws and all that.

    It's probably lost a lot of its impact by now, but when I first saw it I admit I got the shivers.

  3. Japanese horror movies almost never connect with me. I do tend to like the atmosphere of most Japanese films, but maybe something gets lost in the translation after that, because usually I just end up confused. Two Japanese films I DO like are Suicide Club (which is also a bit confusing) and Pulse (I heard the American remake sucked.)

    As far as Ju-On and The Grudge are concerned, my friend and I used to make references to the little cat-boy doing things like pooping in a cat box and scratching his ass on the carpet the way cats do. Can you imagine an 11 year old boy taking a crap in a cat box? Can you, I ask?

  4. I guess I'm the only horror fan that liked The Grudge. I still try to figure out why everyone hates it so much...the only thing that really annoyed me about it was that piece of emotionless wood from Roswell.

  5. I liked The Grudge, maybe because it was my first exposure to this type of Japanese horror, but not so much Ju-On. I thought Ju-On was too confusing (and boring to boot), though I agree the atmosphere was really good.

    And I also wanted to bludgeon a few kids in the theater when we were watching The Grudge.

  6. Hi BC,

    How's my fav horror movie maestro?

    Visually, Ju-on is stunning. Turn off the light, turn down the sound, and then just soak in the creepy images. There is no narrative, as you said. No reason to care about anyone.

    The Ring, not Ringu, scared THE SHIT out of me. Obviously, I saw The Ring first. One of my fav horror movies.


  7. Ya I dig the Ring (US) as well... beautifully shot, decent scares, better plot than the original too.

    Ju-On just doesn't resonate with me though. *shrug*

  8. I saw "The Grudge" a while back and found myself with a cat who decided she, too, could take up that horrid catterwauling of the little boy in the movie...oh, at about 4 that morning. "See, mommy, I can do it, too!"

    Thanks, Usuri.

    Creepy and nihilistic--my cuppa tea, but both movies were just plain bleak. I like to think of myself as moderatedly well-read and well-traveled, but I couldn't get my hands around whatever the hell they were trying to say with this flick (the re-made original or the reimagined, re-made origi...whatever). Parts of it were baffling to me. Still are.

    But for plain, unvarnished spook-factor, I'd rent either one over and over again.

  9. I paid $10 to see this in a theater before The Grudge came out and felt distinctly ripped off. And confused.

    I'd rather sit through the Tomie series any day than the Ju-On series.

  10. How can any person like Suicide club? It's garbage.


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