Ju-On: The Grudge (2002) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Ju-On: The Grudge (2002) Review

Horrorific content by adrian on April 13th, 2020 | Movie Review | Cursed, Supernatural, Cult Classic, Haunted House, J-Horror, The Grudge Series

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It’s about a cursed house that passes on its rage to any poor bastard that happens to stop by.

Ju-On: The Grudge was directed by Takashi Shimizu (who also directed Innocent Curse and Flight 7500) and stars Megumi Okina (from Shutter and St. John's Wort), Yui Ichikawa (from Ju-On: The Grudge 2) and Kanji Tsuda (from Helldriver and Devil Hunting).

Ju-On: The Grudge is the third movie in a twelve part Ju-On series, but the first that became an instant J-Horror classic. It also kicked off a four-part American series we know of simply as The Grudge.

Ju-On starts off disturbing, there's a strangled cat and a surprising kill scene within the first 30 seconds. There's no score, a thick atmosphere and gets super suspenseful within minutes. I can see why it was so popular back in J-Town. The original concept is also wild. When a person dies a horrible death, the rage from that person is passed along to others like a virus. You can actually see the moment someone is infected with The Grudge, they change immediately. It's actually a lot like the zombie "Rage" virus in 28 Days Later. Once a person gets it, they grudge out.

Anyone familiar with The Grudge knows all about the pale-faced grudge chick (Kayako) and the creepy cat kid (Toshio). These are simply hosts for the grudge, having spawned the virus after being brutally murdered. The house they were murdered in is still their home, which curses anyone who walks in. And it's unfortunately a popular place, people walk in and out all day like it's a train station.

The interesting thing about Ju-On is that it's segmented into a series of chapters, each named after a different character. You get to see their experience with the grudge chick and the cat kid from start to finish. They're almost like a series of short stories that all share a common plot. I recently read a famous manga called Uzumaki by Junji Ito that was formatted in the same way, it was a hit a few years before Ju-On came out so the format was still all the rage. The manga was adapted into a movie Spiral aka Uzumaki (2000) and it was directed by Akihiro Higuchi aka Higuchinsky.

The chapter format was fun until the third or fourth chapter. By that time it started to feel repetitive. You already got to see the horror climax multiple times, it starts to feel like you're just watching the same movie over and over. Everyone goes into the house, catches the curse and gets hunted down by the grudge chick and the cat kid, over and over. And just like its J-Horror counterpart, Ringu, it's scare after scare after scare. So by the fourth chapter you've already seen like 200 scares.

BUT, 5 stars for original concept. It seemed played out after watching all of the modern Grudge movies (and countless movies that played off them) before going to back to this original, but in all fairness Takashi Shimizu is a horror mastermind who gifted the world with Ju-On.

Worth Watching?

If you're fan of J-Horror or if you just like watching the originals than yes. If you're looking for a real horror movie be warned, Ju-On doesn't really pack the punch that it used to.

Ju-On: The Grudge Review (2002) Worth Watching? - ALL HORROR Tweet it

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