When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage a curse is left behind.
Anyone who enters the house where a terrible event like this happened is marked
and the spirits will come for them. They never forgive and they never forget.
The reinvention of the horror genre continues thanks to the
creativity pulsating out of Asia but can Ju-On: The Grudge frighten you like
nothing before? No but there are some genuine scares.
Asian cinema has become a hotbed for horror as of late and the
Ju-On movies have really added to this. These are movies that explore the
supernatural but not in a FX filled, masker teenage killer way that is the
Hollywood but in a way that anyone can be a victim and no one is safe. These
films rely on shocks and frights and not blood and guts to provide their scares
and this is what is how Asian cinema is breathing new life into the genre.
Writer/Director Takashi Shimizu interweaves stories about the
characters that enter the haunted house. We follow each of them through their
initial entry into the house, how the spirits catch up with them and finally
how they meet their grizzly deaths. He creates real tension here but a sense
of inevitability takes over as all the victims have absolutely no chance of
surviving in the end. We find this out as the film progresses but Shimizu
keeps throwing victims at us to the point that it feels a bit like a relentless
conveyer belt of death.
The low budget origins are very obvious in both the look of
the film and the visual effects. Normally this would endear you to the movie,
as most filmmakers do tend to make the most of their budgets but the frights
are affected by the look and brightness of the movie. This should have been
a movie cloaked in shadow and devoid of light but the spirits of Kayako and
Toshio lose some of their impact during the daytime. The low special effects
budget can account for most of this but with a little more creativity they
could have ramped up the scares tenfold.
These minor quibbles should take anything away from what is
a genuinely scary movie. The performances reflect this as most of the cast
react with real terror to the events unfolding in front of them. The real
stars of the film are Yuya Ozeki and Takako Fuji as the haunting spirits Kayako
and Toshio. While they don't actually have any lines as such, it their screen
presence that amps up the frights in the movie. Their performances are all
about shocks as they provide some truly jumpy moments. Ju-On: The Grudge is
still a hell of a lot more inventive and scary than anything Hollywood has
produced in a very long time.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic with a choice between Dolby Digital
5.1 and soundtracks, the transfer is very good. The picture has been digitally
remastered to make it crystal clear and better than ever. The sound quality
is also very good, especially during the more frightening scenes. You also
get a choice between the original Japanese language track and an English dubbed
track of the film.
Exclusive feature-length audio-commentary with Asian Cinema Expert, Bey
Asian Cinema aficionado Bey Logan provides an information filled commentary
for Ju-On: The Grudge. This is someone who really knows his facts as he reveals
information on the director and stars of film, including mini biographies.
He also talks extensively about the film itself and the Ju-On franchise, including
the American remake. Logan then comments on the emergence of the Horror genre
in Japan and how it has affected the rest of the world.
Bey Logan Biography
Find out more about the man behind the audio-commentary track
Previews and information about the Hong Kong Legends DVD presentations 'A
Chinese Ghost Story', 'Full Contact', 'Bullet in the Head', 'Wing Chun', 'Iron
Monkey' and 'Moon Warriors and the Premier Asia releases 'Ichi The Killer',
'Volcano High', ' Bang Rajan', 'Bichunmoo' and 'The Warrior'
Premier Asia has done an extremely good job in bringing Ju-On: The Grudge
to the UK market. The commentary track by Bey Logan is extremely good and
well worth listening to. The remastered picture quality is first rate and
the inclusion of a dts track is also a real bonus. Even though there is a
lack of other bonus features, such as a making of featurette, this is still
a well-presented DVD package, especially for a foreign movie.
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