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Belittling Horror Excessively: Ju-On: The Grudge07:32 PM -- Wed October 30, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: There's this house where a woman and her son and a cat (yes, it too) were murdered by the father. As some text at the start of the movie explains, when someone dies violently, there's a special kind of ghost/curse created, a grudge. It is said to kill anyone who enters the house. There is then a series of different short stories that are fairly tightly intertwined, in which anyone who enters the house is killed. Hypothesis confirmation ensues.

Scariness Type: This is much like Silent Hill in that there is very little gore, and not really any significant jump scares, just rather a sense of horror - you see a lot of things coming at you that are simply wrong. They aren't hidden, they aren't popping out at you, they just come at you slowly and you sit there thinking "I don't want to see these things!"

Rating: 3.5/5 Teddy Bears.

Body Count: 10 I believe... a lot of people disappear with bodies found later.

Fun Fact: This movie was originally a pair of TV movies in Japan. Then this movie was made as a sequel to them, then a sequel was made to it, then an American remake, then an American sequel, then some spin-off mini-movies in Japan, then a 3rd American movie. I think. There's been a lot, is what I'm saying.

Best Moment: I really liked the part when one of the characters was riding in an elevator, and she wasn't looking out the window, but we could see, and on every single floor she passed, the ghost of the dead boy was standing there staring at her. It wasn't particularly scary, it was just unexpected and abnormal.

Worst Moment: Hmm. The ghosts were generally very unscary - we hearken back to A Haunting At Silver Falls here, where the ghosts are literally just people covered in white makeup, no special effects of any kind. It's very strange and most of the time it's just not effective. Though that little boy sitting under your table drumming his fingers on his knees, that's a bit off-putting! There are many bits where they are used to good effect (or most effectively, where they aren't used, and there are scary shadows and such instead), but they could've been more effective if they weren't just people in white makeup to begin with.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There are a bunch of times in this movie where people just seem too overly scared before they have encountered anything supernatural. They hear a noise upstairs and immediately they're cowering in the corner, then slowly inching up the stairs, bracing for the worst. Dude, it's probably a cat. A GHOST CAT (the ghost cat, by the way, was played by a normal cat, in no makeup of any sort. It was cute).

Horror Tropes: There's some J-Horror funtimes here - long black messy hair, only used once but really quite odd; distorted faces on TV; photos magically messing up the faces on them; evil ghost phone calls; people dying of fright apparently; themes of alienation and loneliness... this is one of the 'original' J-horror movies (I assume Japan had horror movies before the 90's, but this was when they started hitting America all at once).

My Take: At first I felt like this movie was pretty silly, and I couldn't believe it was worshipped alongside The Ring which was incredibly strange and terrifying (well, as far as I remember now, years after seeing it - maybe it doesn't hold up either). But as I got further into it, it got creepier and more interesting. I still think The Ring was far better though. There are some disturbing personal-space issues with the ghosts in this movie. In the end though, it felt like the last scene was the first point where people began to piece together clues and figure things out, and that was way too late (spoiler: the woman who figured things out died in that same scene). The movie was also really hard to follow, due to language challenges and a non-linear structure, and I confess to reading up on the internet to fully understand what I had just seen. For the longest time I thought the retired cop had a younger daughter and an older daughter (and I couldn't figure out why he was dead all of a sudden either...), until the internet pointed out to me that that was years later and his daughter had grown up and he had died somewhere in between. So I couldn't enjoy it as much when I spent half the time trying to figure out who people were, only to gradually realize this was later, or earlier. That time-jump stuff is not as easy to follow without the handy language cues! I feel like I'm all set to watch the American remake now though. Too bad Netflix only has the third one.

Missed Opportunity: For a film with a ghost cat, they sure lacked the classic scene where a cat jumps out and yowls at somebody even though cats never do that in real life.

The Lesson: Stay out of that one house. I'm not sure which one exactly. Watch the movie so you know what it looks like. You do not want to go in there. It's in Japan though, so you're probably fine.

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