“Ju-On 2″ (a.k.a. “Ju-On: The Grudge 2″) – Chris Luedtke

Sometimes you know you’ve made a mistake even before you make it. Sometimes, you walk into your local video store or waltz over to your Netflix account, look up that bad film, and press the add key. Even if you didn’t want to press it, you did. Even if you didn’t wanna fork over the cash to pay for this rental, you did. And now it’s in your possession, what else is there to do but swallow your pride, lower your expectations ,and hide the seppuku knife?

Evil has returned in Ju-On 2, and its anger lives on. This time around, we find a couple traveling down a highway getting an unwelcome visit from a ghost that sends the husband into a coma. Now, expectant film actress Kyoko Harase (Noriko Sakai) is beginning to have serious questions about her pregnancy after she believes to have miscarried. In addition to this, people working with Harase on her new movie are beginning to see ghosts and disappear. In the midst of all this brouhaha, one question remains: what the hell is going on?

I’ll give Ju-On 2 kudos straight off the bat for at least having a better set-up than the previous installment. The film at least has a concise plot, but this isn’t obvious until later on, when we start seeing repeat shots from different angles. While we do have some main characters (Harase mainly), we still get lost in the constant switching-around. Ju-On 2 just seems to screw with the plot for the sake of screwing with it. Most of the time, a second perspective from another character isn’t necessary.

One major downgrade from the first movie is the portrayal of the ghosts. They still have a major role, but now we hardly ever see them in light. Consider it a good or bad thing, but I consider it a new discomfort. The ghosts from the first Ju-On were seldom afraid to show their colors, but in this film they suddenly go into hiding if someone looks the wrong way. They still do enough killing, but not to the degree of the first film. It sometimes feels like the ghosts of the first film have been traded in for a bunch of spirits that only have the guts to back-stab characters.

The dark coloration has been massively thrown all over this film. I feel like it could have been shot in broad daylight, but then someone spilled black paint all over the master negative and just ran with it. When the ghosts did come out to play, half the time I couldn’t see them; if I could, they just looked like grey shadows on black walls. This not only lowered the “creepy” factor, it completely obliterated it. Hell, there were probably ghosts everywhere, but everything was so dark that I just couldn’t see anything.

With the Ju-On series, there’s just not much to be had. I can’t say I’m surprised or disappointed. The first film sucked, and the second makes little effort to improve on the original formula. In so many ways, it’s been plunged further into cinematic purgatory. Ju-On 2 is not only something to skip, it’s something to be shunned. Leave this — and its predecessor– alone to rot in that hell of a house it was spawned from.

Rating: ★☆☆☆

-Chris Luedtke

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