> Volume 6 > Number 31


Takashi Shimizu

Megumi Okina
Misaki Ito
Misa Uehara
Yui Ichikawa
Kanji Tsuda

Release: 23 Jul. 04

Ju-on: The Grudge


William Castleís haunted houses were connected by his dark humor and the kitsch scares that he found in these amazingly contrived premises. He succeeded in placing people in unlikely locales, and then entertaining the audience with goofy novelties like glasses that allowed them to see the poltergeists and skeletons that flew out of nowhere. More important, though, was that he set the stage for Richard Wiseís adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, that way truly scary without feeling like a complete departure from the Castle aesthetic, sans the novelties.

Ju-on: The Grudge tries to capitalize on the scares that were so palpable in the 1960s haunted house films with a Sino touch that gives it a cultural import but denies it of any real terror. In fact, this story of the downfall of the Japanese family structure (cf. Tokyo Story), loses much of its horror credentials by becoming unintentionally funny as its hainted demon child follows people around in preparation for their fate (only once, as his face peers through the windows of every storey while his victim rides an elevator).

Thereís evidently a background to Ju-on, with films and a television series that predate this film. Not unlike Ringu, this Japanese horror success story will soon have an American remake starring Sarah Michelle-Gellar. Didnít we learn anything from those 1990s William Castle remakes?

©2004, David Perry,, 30 July 2004