by Hope Madden
Before cashing in on Hollywood’s J-horror remake madness, Japanese writer/director Takashi Shimizu captured his own nation’s imagination with this low-budget tale of one tough to rent house. Its previous tenants don’t just scare you away, they follow you home. Ghosts never die, you see, but apparently interlopers do. Just visiting the house once is enough to saddle you with tag along spirits who will kill you and then stack you up in the attic.
Shimizu’s first effort in the series that spawned the American remake The Grudge and sequels on both sides of the Pacific is basically just a story about some nice people trying to do the right thing. Idiots!
The picture does not rely on sustained suspense, or even the hope of escape or salvation. The narrative is simply a non-sequential look at a handful of lives irreversibly damaged by contact with the house. There may be a total of half a dozen scenes in the entire film without a specific shock or scare. And most of the scares are pretty creepy.
The bigger budget of the Hollywood counterpart helped Shimizu create a richer, more atmospheric nightmare, but the limited funds of the original effort required more strategizing. With his unique pacing, inventive sound editing and use of shadow he creates a sense of something always on the periphery.
Ju-On: The Grudge screens at 4:30 PM on Saturday (8/10). You can also see:
1:30 PM: Ringu
7:30 PM: Horror Stories
10:30 PM: IP Man: The Final Fight
12:0 AM: The Slit Mouthed Woman