“Ju-On” (a.k.a. “Ju-On: The Grudge”) – Chris Luedtke

Ju-On was a film I had much curiosity invested into. The Grudge was one of the first J-horror remakes that I remember coming out in America, next to The Ring. However, shortly after it came out I remember a friend of mine saying that Ju-On was one of the only two films that he had wished he had walked out of. I understand why now. I haven’t seen the American remake, but I can assure you that the original Ju-On is a floating pile of disappointment that I wish had perished in the wretched sea that spawned it.

There’s a house in Japan that harbors a horrible secret. After a series of brutal murders occurs, a young nurse arrives at the house. Little does she know that the house has become cursed and will destroy anyone who sets foot inside, all in the name of righting the wrongs that have befallen it.

The first thing that we can sense about Ju-On is that it has no game plan. Seriously, once the first ten minutes are through, any semblance of a “story” is thrown out the window, and we’re left with trivial, vague ideas. It feels like a cheat, to be honest. Anytime I thought Ju-On was about to build up an ounce of story, it had to go and off its potential. What we’re treated to here is a broken timeline that doesn’t even bother to announce itself.

You’ll either laugh at the ghosts in Ju-On or shrug them off. Some may actually find them creepy; I found them to be absurd. I can’t understand why the ghosts are to be feared. They never seemed to do much other than stand around or walk behind people. Ju-On seems to like getting off more on cheap thrills and minor-scale scares than anything else. Really, how much can we be expected to jump all because a hand is in some girl’s hair?

I wish there was something that could be said for any character in this film. Unfortunately, the film develops a very lackadaisical attitude towards its players, and trust me, there’s a lot of them; enough that I can’t even keep track. The ones that last the longest tend to be the most uninteresting.

Ju-On is a waste of time. I can’t understand why so many people have hyped this. The film is a bore to sit through, and the ending is no reward. In fact, the ending is a nonsensical, final exercise that gives off a final “I’ll do whatever I want” statement to the viewer. If possible, avoid this one. Save yourself, and you know you can.

Rating: ★☆☆☆

-Chris Luedtke

Read Betty Jo Tucker’s Ju-On review here.

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