Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ju-on: The Grudge (2003)

A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005

Asian horror films are now what French comedies used to be in 1990s – remedy for the lack of original ideas in Hollywood. This phenomenon benefited both Hollywood and Asian filmmakers; at least some of the audience introduced to the usually inferior Western copies took some interest in the original versions. Their curiosity, however, sometimes led to disappointment and JU-ON: THE GRUDGE, 2003 Japanese horror film written and directed by Takashi Shimizu, represents one of them.

JU-ON: THE GRUDGE, based on Shimizu’s 2000 TV film, has spawned two sequels and American remake starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. The plot is set in a house whose owner has killed his wife and child in a fit of jealous rage. This horrible crime created terrible curse and the house is haunted by malevolent ghosts of the murdered victims. One of the people to experience this phenomenon is Rika Nishina (played by Megumi Okina), young social worker who replaces mysteriously disappeared colleague and enters house. Soon it becomes apparent that everyone who enters is subjected to the curse which manifests itself in ghosts scaring their victims to death. All those incidents are presented chapters relating to an individual being in some way connected to the house.

JU-ON features some really effective scenes and this film isn’t the one that could be recommended to those faint at heart. Because of that JU-ON had opportunity to become genuine horror classic. Unfortunately, the film’s structure is flawed –there is very little narrative glue to connect those scenes and despite use of chapter format – which looks innovative at first – JU-ON quickly gets repetitive. By the time film ends fate of each character is going to be predictable. To make things worse, there are too many characters and few of them are portrayed in a way that would allow audience to really care about their fate.

This doesn’t mean that JU-ON is a bad film. Fans of horror genre are probably going to be satisfied. The acting is good most of the times and Shimizu shows great skill in creating effective scenes with small budget. Unfortunately, there are certain formulaic limitations that JU-ON, just as most of its Hollywood genre counterparts, can’t overcome.

RATING: 5/10 (++)


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