Written and directed by Takashi Shimizu
Starring: Megumi Okina, Misaki Itô, and Misa Uehara
In Japan, when the volunteer social assistant Rika Nishina is assigned to visit a family, she is cursed and chased by two revengeful fiends: Kayako, a woman brutally murdered by her husband and her son Toshio. Each person that lives in or visits the haunted house is murdered or disappears.
This is the stuff that gives me nightmares. One could argue the scares of Ju-on are all visual, regardless of that being true or not, I would die in less than one second of this happened to me. Parasites and Japanese stuff are the A-list terror agents in my house. I could watch an NC-17 horror movie that boasted “the most baby decapitating ever” and be fine with it. Throw in one scene of a facehugger from Alien, or anything from Ju-on and it’s instant cardiac arrest.
If you insist on linear storytelling, this is not your film. Ju-on jumps from protagonist to protagonist, giving the viewer a glimpse into the circumstance that led to their insanity/murder/disappearance. You might feel like Michael Scott in The Office’s A Benihana Christmas episode, if you follow. It’s alright, don’t feel bad. Ju-on is a petrifying take on haunted house and ghost films from a Japanese perspective. It certainly pays homage to classic American horror movies and the tropes attached to such films. The identifying Asian horror traits are deeply rooted and ingrained into our subconsciousness, allowing the director to strike familiar chords when the terror grabs hold.
The day I would meet Jesus.
Most casual American viewers will know this as The Grudge, the American remake starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. There’s nothing wrong with the very English version of this film and it definitely feels more like a multiplex horror flick. I might add the story is a little easier to follow in the American take. If you hate subtitles, or you’re just stubborn, watch The Grudge if only for the ghost cat kid and big bad. *shudder* If you have a strong constitution and you can handle the pure horror the original brings, then add this to your Netflix account. As I said in the beginning of this article, it can be argued that the bulk of Ju-on is visual. Yes and no. No one will argue the screeching kid imitating a cat isn’t creepy as hell. The sounds and score that build to these reveals also serve the demented nature of the movie. Sure it’s scary as hell, but would fall short without these film elements.
If you need plenty of shit-your-pants scary films for October, here’s a great start.