Ju-On: The Grudge (2003) – By Alexandra Bradley

“Ju-on: The curse of the one who dies in the grip of a powerful rage. It gathers and takes place when that person was alive. Those who encounter it die and a new curse is born.” Rika Nishina (Megumi Okina) is a welfare nurse who is volunteering at a social welfare center. The normal social worker isn’t at work and Rika is talked into going to check on an old lady at her home. She finds the old lady scratching at a door, alone and soiled. Rika bathes the woman and cleans the house, which is completely trashed. While vacuuming upstairs she hears a sound coming from a closet that is taped shut with packing tape. When she opens the closet door she finds a little boy named Toshio (Yuya Ozeki) and a cat. When she returns to the old woman, Rika sees something black hovering above the woman and nothing more.

There are six stories, “Rika”, “Katsuya,” “Hitomi,” “Toyama,” “Izumi,” and “Kayako.” Each one follows a person who knows someone who came into conact with it and in turn, is personally affected by Ju-on. Can the curse be broken or will people die for it for all eternity?

This is the first time a movie has given me chills. I was never scared but occasionally I’d get chills all the way down to my feet and it’d cause me to shiver. Some of the special effects they used were very reminiscent of “The Ring”, with the disjointed, surreal movement of “the curse.” Who would’ve thought that kabuki makeup and eyeliner could be so effective! And that sound the curse made? Holy crap. It was such an unsettling sound! It’s a really cool effect when they have things in a scene for only a frame. You’re like… “did I see that? Or am I crazy! Ahhh!”

The story was broken up so that you saw what happened to six different people, yet they were all connected. They were either in the house or they were friends with someone who had been in the house. Mostly people who came into contact with Rika were affected. This was both cool and not at the same time. It was cool because you didn’t get bored with the same character doing the same stupid things and getting themselves in the same situations over and over, but on the other hand you don’t feel very connected to the main character and what she’s going through. The end was very implied. If you weren’t paying attention earlier in the film when Izumi’s mom is watching TV, the ending seems open to interpretation (or you can just watch the alternate ending and see the parts they left out that explain it). Overall I was very impressed with this movie. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be, but the anticipation of waiting for something scary to happen in a movie that uses a lot of suspenseful moments can be chilling at times. I give it four stars.