- Ju-On: The Grudge
- Takashi Shimizu
- Misaki Ito, Kanji Tsuda, Risa Matsuda, Misa Uehara, Yui Ichikawa
- 90 min.
As overladen as it is at times with scare-by-sound tactics, there's no arguing with Ju-On's central conceit: white people are creepy. It doesn't help when they're crabwalking Exorcist-style down always-darkened, always-cornered, always-creaky staircases.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa, director of Cure and luminary of contemporary Japanese horror, says to his actors, "you can't be more scared than the audience... if you act more frightened than the audience, it gives them a sign of how to react. So, they end up feeling comfortable."* Whether this is true or not is debatable. The actors in Ju-On are scared witless on a number of occasions. And it is still scary. It doesn't have the lasting creep-out factor of The Ring, but it manages a high level of fright during its duration. One thing that is scary is people and things behaving in ways that they oughtn't: eyes being opened too wide, people moving too quickly or in contorted ways. And Ju-On has these in abundance.
Sam Raimi, director of Crimewave and luminary of '80s independant splatter-flicks, says that Ju-On is, "The scariest movie I've ever seen," or something to that effect. As much respect as I have for the guy who gave us Evil Dead 2, Reynaldo the Heel and the first ten minutes and last two minutes of Army of Darkness, I think he may have drifted into overstatement. Granted, it must be tempting for a newly minted celebrity to use his name to hock things. And I also grant you, this is as worthy of being hocked as anything else. It just isn't the scariest movie that Sam Raimi has ever seen.
* Kiyoshi Kurosawa, interviewed in Tokyoscope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion by Patrick Macias. Which I recommend.
- Pat Jackson