Ju-On 2 – Shocktober Continues!

Ju-On 2 is currently available on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Ju-On 2 (2003) – Rated R

“Returning to the evil abode used to such chilling effect in Ju-On, this scary second installment introduces new victims to the dwelling’s curse, including a pregnant woman with serious questions about her unborn child. Loading the spine-tingling thriller full of creepy-crawling children who lurk around every corner, director Takashi Shimizu immerses viewers in the insanity through his signature handheld camera work and optical wizardry.”

“Ju-on: The curse of one who dies enraged. It lurks in the places that person was alive. Those who encounter it die and a new curse is born.”

I hardly know where to start this post as the timeline is very complicated. The Japanese horror craze started with Ringu in 1998. It was, at the time, the highest-grossing horror movie in Japanese history and naturally spawned sequels. Ju-On the Curse arrived direct to video in 2000 and spawned a sequel before moving into theaters as Ju-On: The Grudge (2002) which then spawned a sequel Ju-On: The Grudge 2 (2003).

In 2002, American audiences got the U.S. remake of The Ring (2002). This horror movie was so unlike other American horror films that many went looking for the original films and horror producers scoured the Japanese market for films to remake.

Japanese horror films combine fatalism, kabuki motifs and tricks, and some very spooky looking spectres. They do not feel a need to lay out specific causes as American films do. Often there seems to be no viable way to combat the evil.

Even though the images of ghostly white women and children have become a source of parody now, I do not show these films to my wife because I do not want those pictures in her head. I made the egregious mistake of taking my 13-year old horror junkie daughter to see The Ring at the theater because it was rated PG-13. She did not sleep for more than a week. /faildad

If you are a fan of horror, you should at least see one of these films for a different perspective. The Japanese versions are best if you can stand subtitles. Writer/director Takashi Shimizu handled both chores for the first four Ju-On films and, honestly, they are not all that different from each other.

As with the previous Ju-on films, this one is told as a series of interconnected vignettes. This film also takes a page from Pulp Fiction and tells portions of the story out of sequence. Between that and a few flashbacks, it may be a little tricky to follow the narrative logic but that is not why we are watching this.

Takashi Shimizu’s imagery is creepy and unsettling. I strongly recommend watching this by yourself, at night, with the lights off. Women and children, normally the targets of fear in horror movies, are the causes here which is part of the unsettling factor. All horror fans should see some Japanese horror but I will warn you that it does get repetitive (just as I am so tired of the found footage subgenre).

Remake-itis: The Japanese Ju-On series begat the American Grudge series. The Grudge (2004) starring Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and was quite good, probably because Takashi Simizu directed it. It was quickly followed up with two lesser sequels, The Grudge 2 (2006), also directed by Shimizu, and The Grudge 3 (2009).