|31 Days of Horror: Day 5|
Ju-On: The Grudge is assembled in a series of six vignettes, named after the main character of each chapter. Rika (Megumi Okina) works as a visiting caretaker, giving families a helping hand by caring for the elderly relatives in their homes. When Rika stops by her newest patient's home, she finds only the catatonic patient home --- the husband and wife who own the place are gone. They left it a mess, too; it looks like grandma had a few friends over and they had a "throw wads of paper on the floor" party. While cleaning up, Rika hears some scratching noises coming from an upstairs bedroom closet. The closet in question is covered with tape, to keep it closed. At this point, Rika seems willing to leave whatever is trapped in there --- a dying child, a sex slave, a magical elf king, or whatever ---alone. In retrospect, that reluctance was a pretty good idea. She only tears the tape off and opens the door when she hears a cat's meow. She opens the door and finds a cat; she is also disappointed (I assume) when she sees a creepy child in the closet, as well.
|More proof that you should never let kids out of closets|
|Is that a flashlight in a creepy attic? Hell, she deserves what she gets.|
The acting in Ju-On: The Grudge is fairly low-key. The normal characters seem to act fairly realistically, which was nice, but their parts were not overly dramatic. I liked Megumi Okina in the lead role, if only because she seemed suitably scared; she is that rare case of a horror movie character acting more frightened than a normal person would in the same circumstances. Yuya Ozeki and Takako Fuji played the creepy ghost people (Cat Boy and Hair Girl, respectively), and they were fine. There's not a whole lot of acting going on, but they can hold stares and poses pretty effectively.
|In the director's cut, this shot lasts ten minutes|
|Man, I wish she was calling for Gamera in this scene. That would have been awesome.|
Ju-On: The Grudge is the third film in the Ju-On series, and from what I can tell, they're all pretty much the same thing. That may be because Takashi Shimizu wrote and directed them all. Of course, he also directed the American remake (and its first sequel). Like it's American sister, Ju-On: The Grudge suffers from pacing problems. The editing is decent, which means that the scary scenes were handled well, but they were too spaced out for most of the film. The budget for this movie was also pretty low, so the CGI of the GrudgeMonster as a black cloud looked kind of weird and the whole fingers-in-your-hair gag didn't look all that great. Most of the acting in the film was unmemorable, but I was surprised to find that I liked two of the featured characters; after hating everyone in The Grudge, I consider that a significant improvement. While I wasn't a big fan of the pacing in this movie, I have to admit that there were some striking images. I would pee my pants (just a little bit) if I looked underneath my table at a restaurant and saw this:
|"Is it time for me to murder you yet? How about now?"|
So what is it about the last two vignettes that made such a big difference? They were what I like to call "extremely Japanese." In other words, they were bizarre but interesting.
|"Is it okay if I take your underwear to replenish the vending machine downstairs?"|
|...as is this: Grrrudge Cats!|
|"Trust me, this is the only way you want to see The Grudge"|
So, I guess the only mildly important question that remains is how Ju-On: The Grudge compares to The Grudge. Both movies share the same basic story, the same basic run-time, the same actors playing the ghostly killers, and the same director, so it's not surprising that they are very similar. And, for the first two-thirds of the film, "very similar" means "for all intents and purposes, identical."
|In the American version, she stands on the other side of the elevator|