Ju-on: The Grudge

Ju-on The Grudge

Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)

Two brutal murders spawn a curse that destroys anyone setting foot in the cursed house and threatens to doom all those around them.

A young social worker is sent to a home to care for an elderly woman after she, her son, and her daughter-in-law move into a new home.  Once there, she discovers a young missing boy and witnesses the death of her client at the hands of a ghost.  This sets into motion a set of tales which tell the history and eventual legacy of the house, the victims who birthed its curse, and those who enter the house.  Years ago, a jealous husband murdered his wife, creating the angry spirit who murdered him and anyone who has entered the house since – following intruders to their own homes and spreading its evil.

The film is notable in its non-linear approach to telling its story.  But the combination of the unconventional storytelling style and the supernatural elements in play make the story hard to follow at times.  The story, itself, is also lacking.  There seems to be no purpose in the ghost’s unfocused rage.  On the one hand, this makes the whole thing that much more terrifying because no one is safe and it seemingly will never stop.  On the other hand, the inevitability of the doom portrayed makes it harder to feel that sense of dread – it’s almost more liberating when you know there’s nothing you can do to avoid your fate and none of your moves matter.  Similarly, the story unfolds in a series of vignettes, each centered around a specific character meeting their inevitable fate, making it hard to really develop any attachment to anyone or anything in the film.

The movie is more creepy and disturbing than truly scary and while some moments have a sense of tragic beauty to them, the whole thing sort of descends into a rote retelling of one character’s grim fate after the other – all following a similar sequence.

The American remake was much maligned and had some problems, but the one thing it did well was give the viewer characters and a story to follow and care about.  The original is a creepy “lights out” sorta popcorn flick, but not much else.


Stars: 2.5/5


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