Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
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Overall Rating 68%
Overall Rating
Ranked #2,494
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Connections: The Grudge

Rika is a young woman in Japan who takes care of an old woman named Sachie. While she is at the house, Rika finds a young boy named Toshio. She eventually finds about a curse, that anyone who enters the house will be killed by the spirit of Kayako. Rika must get herself out of the curse before it's too late. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: November 12, 2004
When someone dies in a state of extreme rage, they leave behind a curse known as The Grudge. This is exactly what happens when the movie opens, as we see a man murdering his wife. Moving ahead a bit, we find Rika Nishida (Megumi Okina), a volunteer homecare worker, who has been sent out to check on an elderly Sachie (Chikako Isomura) after Sachie's previous worker failed to show up. Upon arriving at the house, Rika finds it to be a complete mess... making the situation even more odd, Sachie is seemingly in a catatonic state, not speaking to her at all. Rika gets to her chores of cleaning up the house, and while cleaning the upstairs part, she hears some odd sounds. After doing some investigating, she finds a black cat and a young boy by the name of Toshio (Yuya Ozeki) holed up in a closet that was taped shut. She turns her head for just a brief second, and after looking back towards where Toshio was sitting, she finds that he has completely disappeared. Moving ahead a bit, we find Sachie's son Katsuya Tokunaga (Kanji Tsuda) and his wife Kazumi (Risa Matsuda) checking in on his mother. Katsuya goes off to work while leaving Kazumi to tend to his mother. When he returns home, he finds Kazumi to be dead in the upstairs room, but covers it up when his sister Hitomi (Misaki Ito) shows up. As more and more people get involved, the curse moves from person to person, more people die, and wham, a movie.

OK, as much as I wanted to like this movie, there's a huge problem that needs to be addressed up front. The director chose to use the time-honored tradition of shooting the movie out of sequence by showing one particular scene, then showing what happened before that, then showing what happens (literally) seven years later, and then going back to shortly after the original scene. I have no problems with that method of storytelling, but it's a complete disaster in this particular film. The different time lines are not connected in a fashion that I could make any sense of most of the time, huge chunks of the storyline are completely left out, and the end result is one huge ball of confusion. Normally when a movie gets to be confusing like that, all is explained in the final scenes, or a bit of thinking afterwards would clear things up. This is not the case here, as even during the closing scene, I found myself wondering just what in the hell was going on. In defense of the movie, however, this is the third entry in the Ju-On series, so maybe if I'd seen the first two, things would have been a bit clearer.

There's some great scenes here though, and the basic storyline is pretty nice even though I missed a good deal of the whos, whats, and whys. I found Toshio, the main ghost of the movie, to be a flop in terms of the scare factor. While he was used effectively in one scene, the rest of his scenes ended up being almost laughable. The ghost of his mother, however, was excellently done. She had an incredibly spooky look to her, and that sound she makes is very effective. Interestingly enough, that sound is made by director Takashi Shimizu; that's a sound he pulls off with ease, no special effects used. Back to the movie at hand, there's a number of other ghosts that tend to pop up throughout the run-time, and most are effectively used to create some really great scenes. If you were to look at this movie as just a compilation of scares and effective usage of ghostly images while ignoring the storyline problems, you'd be in for one hell of a treat. Sadly, however, those storyline points will bring down the final rating on this one in my eyes.

Overall, I can't compare this to the American remake seeings how I haven't watched it just yet. I very seriously doubt that the remake will outdo this one in terms of atmosphere and setting, but I certainly hope it does better in regards to those nagging storyline issues. Director Takashi Shimizu is a great guy who has done some very good movies, so it pains me to give this one an average rating... but in my eyes, that's about all it deserves. 6/10.
Crispy #1: Crispy - added November 13, 2004 at 9:06pm
I have seen the American remake and i though that a)it had an extremely creepy atmosphere even more so than Ju-On. Now i've only seen bits and pieces of Ju-On but the pieces I have seen to correlate the remake was better done. Also, the out of sequence plot makes sense with a bit of thinking through and a second viewing will relly help you if you need it
ScarsRstarS #2: ScarsRstarS - added January 10, 2006 at 8:50am
I want to watch this one because i didnt like teh one that was released in the UK
Ginose #3: Ginose - added October 19, 2006 at 10:53pm
Loved this movie. Possibly one of the scariest films ever made. It pales in comparison to "Ju-On: The Curse" though...
Cryptorchild #4: Cryptorchild - added May 25, 2007 at 9:07pm
I loved this movie. I thought the American remake was alright but this orginal is so much better I think. If you get a chance, watch the sequel, Ju On 2. I think it comes really close to this one. With the sequel, it just never lets up. By far, Takashi Shimizu is one of the best J-horror directors there are.
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