Director - Takashi Shimizu
Year - (2000)

Though I had minor issues with The Grudge remake starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, I really couldnt make a sound judgment on the flick until Id seen the original version. Well, thanks to Blockbuster, I was able to fulfill that wish.

Lets start with the basics. If youve been lucky enough to wander into the Sarah Michelle Gellar version, you know the basic set up. When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage, a curse is left behind. In this case its two pissed off ghosts who track down and kill any unfortunate soul unlucky enough to wander into their house. On one hand, youve got the evil looking cat-boy, with shark eyes and feline sound effects. And on the other, youve got the croaking, creepy, crawling young woman who would give Samara of the Ring a run for her money in the Scary as Hell Tournament.

But I digress, Ju-On, the original version directed by Takashi Shimizu makes less sense than The Grudge, also directed by Shimizu. But dont worry, thats a good thing. In the Japanese version, rather than follow a singular storyline, with one main hero and a gaggle of human victims in waiting, Ju-On follows a nonlinear approach. More like a series of vignettes, we the audience are treated to no less than ten unfortunate Japanese-folk who had come in contact with the house, are stalked in elaborately creepy sequences and eventually snuffed out. Though we never get much history on the individuals in question, thats not really the point, since its the ghosts were interested in and how they can scare us.

With that in mind, the ghosts do scare. While I thought the American remake handled certain scenes with a bit more atmosphere, the original has all the pieces in place for a great ghost movie: Creepy atmospheric music, chilling ghost people and expertly planned sequences that will have you checking the shadows after watching this flick. The American remake was almost a shot for shot comparison to the original; however, there are scenes in the original that rank up there with something Id NEVER want to run into in real life. So in terms of scary, the scary is there. However, the fact that there is no singular protagonist does hurt the movie, and with no real transition from one scene to the next, it can be a bit jarring, going from the present time, to two months before, to five years later. More than that, Ive always had issue with Japanese horror flicks, usually dealing with ghosts that kill their victims by scaring them to death. That and the fact that theres no way to fight them bothered me, simply because I want my characters to have a fighting chance, even if they get in the end. I suppose, one could say that when there is no escape or no way of fighting the ghosts it makes them a little scarier. But I was raised on knife maniacs that would die eventually; it just took a long time to kill him, even if he was back for nine sequels. That and Ghostbusters.

Like I said, The Grudge and its original Japanese version are almost identical, so much that cat boy and creepy lady are played by the same actors in both movies. But since I dont know Japanese films that well, I cant say any on the cast other than the fact that it was filled with young, hot Japanese girls who look scared when they have to.

Overall, I found the original Ju-On to be much scarier than the original Ringu. There is a lot of room for comparison between the two, but Director Shimizu has a much better concept of what makes people squirm. Funny side note: I found The Ring remake better than The Grudge remake. But make that decision for yourself. If you dont mind subtitles and are willing to sit and wait awhile for the scary to show up, this is your kind of film. Any minor squabbles I have with pacing, storyline, effects and make-up of the ghosts dont detract from what is otherwise a well-made, scary flick. Id recommend a daytime viewing.

Reviewed By - Evil Ash

Rating ( 4 of 5 )



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