Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Movie Review: Ju-on: The Curse

Ju-on: The Curse (a.k.a Ju-on 1) 
Toei Video Company, Japan, 2000.
Ju-on: The Curse title
Nota bene! This is the direct-to-video version of Ju-on made in 2000. The big budget film is "Ju-On: The Grudge" (2002) ¡eneb atoN 

The naming of the films is the most confusing since "Zombi" movies.The order of the films is (the films I have are marked in bold, so that you know what reviews to expect for a week or so): 

Katasumi and 4444444444 (Japan 1998, TV)  
Ju-on: The Curse (Japan 2000, video) 
Ju-on: The Curse 2 (Japan 2000, video) 
Ju-on: The Grudge (Japan 2003) 
Ju-on: The Grudge 2 (Japan 2003) 
The Grudge (USA 2004 remake) 
The Grudge 2 (USA 2006) 
The Grudge 3 (USA 2009) 
Ju-On: White Ghost (Japan 2009) 
Ju-On: Black Ghost (Japan 2009) 
Ju-On: The Beginning of the End (Japan 2014) 
Ju-On: The Final Curse (Japan 2015) 

When a person dies with a deep and powerful rage, a curse is born. When someone is killed because of the curse, a new curse is born. The curse can spread to new locations. So once it starts it becomes a never-ending spiral of death. 

The movie is divided into six segments, each of them tells a story of one character. They are, in order: Toshio, Yuki, Mizuho, Kanna, Kayako, and Kyoko

Teacher Shunsuke Kobayashi (Yûrei Yanagi, reporter from "Ringu" films) goes to see why boy named Toshio Saeki (Ryôta Koyama) has not come in school. Toshio is beaten badly and meows like a cat. 
Ryôta Koyama and Yûrei Yanagi
Shunsuke goes to visit Toshio
Something is very wrong
Some time later the house of Saeki-family has new owners, the Murakamis. Yuki (Hitomi Miwa) is studying with her friend Kanna Murakami (Asumi Miwa). When Yuki is alone she hears some scary sounds coming from the attic. 
The house of the Saekis
Hitomi Miwa
Yuki hears scary sounds
Mizuho Tamura (Chiaki Kuriyama) goes to school to find her missing boyfriend Kanna's brother Tsuyoshi (Kazushi Andô). Lights go out and Mizuho's phone rings. 
Chiaki Kuriyama
Mizuho Tamura
Ryôta Koyama
Toshio's ghost
Detectives Yoshikawa (Denden) and Kamio (Tarô Suwa) are investigating murder of teen girl. Mother of the Murakami family, Noriko (Yumi Yoshiyuki) returns home and sees something horrible. 
Denden and Tarô Suwa
Detectives Yoshikawa and Kamio investigate ghastly murders
Back to Shunsuke. The visit reveals that Toshio's mother Kayako (Takako Fuji) was stalking Shunsuke. She was murdered by her jealous husband Takeo (Takashi Matsuyama). 

Some time later the house of Saeki is on sale again. Real estate agent Tatsuya (Makoto Ashikawa) asks his sensitive sister Kyoko to sense if there is presence of evil spirits. 
Yûko Daike
On technical level this has quite crude cinematography as this is a low-budget video-level production. The story starts quite innocently, building slowly suspense and becoming more unnerving and shocking as the story goes on. Still the stories are very simple, and the movie is all about creating a frightening mood. There is very little of on screen gore, but the atmosphere and sound effects are bloodcurdling. The fragmented structure of the movie is very unusual and non-linear. The main story with Shunsuke is divided into two parts with some later events shown before returning to the mystery behind the hauntings. What is the most distinguishing feature compared to contemporary Asian horror movies is that Ju-on does not contain any social commentary unlike for example Hideo Nakata's horror films. Ju-on is just a bunch of intertwined horror stories where some regular people stumble upon a deadly curse and then are doomed to spread it further like plague. Although it is not perfect and sometimes confusing it is a good low-budget horror gem and a good example of what the best Japanese direct-to-video films were near the turn of the Millennium.

After this the next film to watch would be "Ju-On: The Curse 2" but as I do not have it I will watch "Ju-On: The Grudge" next. 

Rating: Good

Starring: Yûrei Yanagi, Yue, Ryôta Koyama, Hitomi Miwa, Asumi Miwa, Yumi Yoshiyuki, Kazushi Andô, Chiaki Kuriyama, Yoriko Dôguchi, Jun'ichi Kiuchi, Denden, Tarô Suwa, Reita Serizawa, Shirô Namiki, Takako Fuji, Takashi Matsuyama, Yûko Daike, Makoto Ashikawa, Kaori Fujii, Hua Rong Weng, Mayuko Saitô 
Director: Takashi Shimizu

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