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Ju-On: The Grudge

Japan 2003
produced by
Takashige Ichise for Oz Co.
directed by Takashi Shimizu
starring Magumi Okina, Misaki Ito, Misa Uehara, Yui Ichikawa, Kanji Tsuda, Kayoko Shibata, Yukako Kukuri, Shuri Matsuda, Yoji Tanaka, Takashi Matsuyama, Yuya Ozeki, Takako Fuji, Chikara Ishikura, Chikako Isomura, Daisuke Honda, Hirokazu Inoue, Aki Fujii
written by Takashi Shimizu, music by Shiro Sato

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Being persuaded by her co-worker Hirohashi (Chikara Ishikura), welfare worker Rika (Megumi Okina) takes the job of taking care of Sachie (Chikako Isomura), an old woman. In Sachie's house though, she finds a little boy, Toshio (Yuya Ozeki) locked away in a wardrobe. When she frees him though, he starts acting weird, slowly freaking her out - but that's nothing to what Rika experiences next ... a spirit/demon bent over Sachie, sucking the life out of her ...

Earlier: Katsuya (Kanji Tsuda) leaves for work, leaving his wife Kazumi (Shuri Matsuda) alone with his mother Sachie. Soon Kazumi sees a little boy she does neither know - but it's Toshio alright - nor can account for, running around the appartment, always eluding her if only just ... When she finally thinks she has cornered him in a room ...

When Katsuya returns home, he only finds Kazumi's dead body. At first, he is devastated - understandably -, but soon a strange power takes possession of him & he hides the body in the attic. When his sister Hitomi (Misaki Ito) comes for a visit, he throws her out ...

Later, Hitomi tries to reach Katsuya via phone, but only gets spooky noises as an answer, furthermore at the toilets of her workplace she sees something that might be a ghost ... & when she sends a watchman to investigate, she sees him killed over a surveillance-monitor. In panic, she flees the building, but the spirits follow her home & manifest to her in various forms, via tv or telephone, in the guise of her brother tatsuya or as a small teddybear she suddenly holds in her hand ... until she finds Toshio under her blanket with her ...

Later, Hirohashi, when looking after his colleague Rika, finds her cowering beside Sachie's corpse, clearly in shock. When the police investigate, they find two more corpses - those of Katsuya & Kazumi - in the attic of the same house. Detectives Igarashi & Nakagawa (Daisuke Honda & Hirokazu Inoue, respectively) take up investigations & soon dig up a series of murders that happened in the same house 5 years ago, with one person involved never found - a little boy called Toshio (!).

the 2 detectives decide to pay Toyama (Yoji Tanaka), who ibnvestigated the case back then & was the only one left alive, a visit, who only reluctantly agrees to help, as he has quit the force precisely because of what he has seen in that case ... & when he now sees the surveillance video of the watchman's murder, he decides to take matters into his own hands, & wants to burn down once & for all the house all the evil emanated from. Once there though he is subjected to ghostly visions & future remembrances concerning his daughter, before he is killed, too ...

Years later: Izumi (Misa Uehara), Toyama's daughter, is living a relatively normal life as a highschool student, until she & 3 other girls go to an alleged ghosthouse - yes, it's the house from above -, but Izumi pulls out literally the last minute ... the other 3 girls go missing, but Izumi is far from safe from harm: Suddenly, she sees her dead father again, as well as her 3 girlfriends & of course Toshio ... soon, she ends up dead, too ...

After years of not having seen each other, Rika & Mariko (Kayoko Shibata) meet again, Rika has finally gotten over all the horror that happened to her in the past, & Mariko has just finished studying to be a groundschool teacher & is teaching ehr first class. But already at htheir first meeting, Rika has a ghostly apparition of Toshio. & when Mariko loater tells her over the phone that she has to do a housevisit to meet the parents of a problemchild, it neither takes the viewer nor Rika long to figure that has to be Toshio ...

Overcoming her understandable fear, Rika rushes to the ghosthouse to find her friend already in the clutches of the ghosts, who are soon after her too ... until she figures the only appear as long as she is covering her eyes, & when she doesn't, they cannot harm her ...

Or can they ?

 

Mainly, this movie is a mood-piece, with much of the actual atrocities happening off-screen & only hinted at - but nevertheless they are spooky -, while the narrative structure more or less resembles that of a jigsaw puzzle: its seperate pieces thrown together in not necessarily the right (temporal) order, & only making perfect sense in the broader context, tied up in the finale. The finale itself though somewhat spoils the movie, the logic it's only scary as long as you cover your eyes rather suggests the director has read one too many books on horror movies than any original idea & is rather an annoyance in its second-rate self-reflexiveness. A spooker as good as this would have deserved better !

 

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD