Directed by:Takashi Shimizu
Written by:Takashi Shimizu

Megumi Okina as Rika Nishina
Misaki Itô as Hitomi Tokunaga
Misa Uehara as Izumi Tôyama
Yui Ichikawa as Chiharu
Kanji Tsuda as Katsuya Tokunaga
Kayoko Shibata as Mariko
Yukako Kukuri as Miyuki
Shuri Matsuda as Kazumi Tokunaga

Release date: 25 January 2003

Ju-On posterJu-On began life in 2000 as a two-part TV movie in Japan. It was originally called The Curse. It quickly became popular enough to be made into a feature film. I have not seen the original TV movie, but I can't help but think it may have been better than the film.

Ju-on is quite different from the Westernized version with Gellar. In Ju-On, one is not simply dealing with ghosts. One is dealing with ghost-zombie hybrids. These beasties show up on security cameras (in fact they seem to be conscious of being recorded on them). They leave tiny toys lying around. And they manifest in several different ways. The contortionist is there, same as in the Gellar movie, but there is also a kind of vaguely humanoid smoke creature, and zombie-like full-on humanoid manifestations that are solid enough to break down doors.

Another difference with the Japanese film is that there is almost no character development. People in this film exist for the purpose of being eaten by the zombie-ghosts. Or, in the case of the police, to stop the zombie-ghosts. And they are strange people. If you looked up the stairs, saw a black cat that wasn't supposed to be there, and saw it snatched away by rather pale looking hands that also weren't supposed to be there, would you go upstairs to investigate further? Or would you phone the authorities? In the Gellar film, her inquisitiveness was based on the notion that someone might have been imprisoned in a closet. In this one, people are just weirdly curious and without caution.

Watching this also cleared up some confusion about THE GRUDGE 2. See, when they made THE GRUDGE, they left out a bunch of stuff so that they could develop the characters a bit and not have the film run for four hours. When THE GRUDGE was a big hit, they had a whole lot of screenplay remaining to make a sequel. (In this film, though, they never leave Tokyo.)

Karen Davis in THE GRUDGE is an amalgam of several characters from JU-ON.

Look to the left for the bloodshot eyes of the smoke creature. I was planning to include stills from Ju-On, but I could not find any good ones. For some reason, all of the shots that looked promising seemed in need of cropping. The camera angle was too wide, as though we needed to see the whole room for no particular reason.

And the colours all seem washed-out and faded and I'm sure the director had a good reason for this but it is very rare in JU-ON to see any bright, vivid colours.

THE GRUDGE with Sarah Michelle Gellar as Karen Davis

Director:  Takashi Shimizu
Producers: Satoshi Fukushima, Aubrey Henderson
Screenplay:     Stephen Susco
Co-starring:     Jason Behr, Clea DuVall
US Release Date:     22 October 2004
Length:     92 minutes (theatrical release)
Genre:     Horror
Interesting Character Scale
    (Jill Robinson=0 Buffy Summers=10}
Best scene for Gellar: All clips from this film seem to have been removed from YouTube.

Sandra Bullock's GRAVITY had a "record" opening weekend, bringing in $55.6 million. But Sarah Michelle Gellar's THE GRUDGE on its opening weekend (24 October 2004) sold more tickets.

Takashi Shimizu directed this remake of the Japanese horror film Ju-on. With Jason Behr, Ted Raimi, and William Mapother. An American nurse living and working in Tokyo is exposed to a supernatural curse that seems to induce suicide. For some reason this film is shot largely in hallways and stairwells.

Jason Behr (Doug) was Billy Fordham in BTVS. Clea DuVall (Jennifer) was Marcie Ross in BTVS. Yuya Ozeki, Takako Fuji, and Takashi Matsuyama, who play the Saeki family in this film, all appeared in Ju-on as well (in the same roles). The Director's Cut is really much better than the theatrical release and has some 15 extended scenes that contribute greatly to character development and suspense.  

On the top below is a clip from THE GRUDGE. On the bottom is an interview with Jonathon Ross promoting it.

The film played in 3,348 theatres in the US before being released on DVD. It grossed $110,359,362. celebrated the 50th anniversary of PSYCHO by listing what they thought were the top ten horror remakes. THE GRUDGE was #5. DAWN OF THE DEAD was #1.

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