ey i'm blogging here a blog by alex daily

So You Want To Watch The “Ju-On” Movies (Part One, 1998-2003)

I watch a lot of movies. And I’m here to use that tactical advantage to your advantage — and tell you about some more movies.

If you’re aware of movies at all, you’ll have heard of these by their American title, The Grudge — in the same way that the Ring films are about a young woman’s pain being projected into the world so hard they end up airing on TV, these are about the same thing happening with a house; a pain felt by the cosmos so hard that the place where it happened holds a, well, grudge. These original films are incredibly low-budget — but they pull off some great scares very effectively.

In this first part I’ll cover the following films:

  • The short films 4444444444 and Katasumi
  • The Japanese V-Cinema (straight to video) films Ju-On: The Curse and Ju-On: The Curse 2.
  • The Japanese theatrical films Ju-On: The Grudge and Ju-On: The Grudge 2.

The assumed audience for this post is people who want to watch the Ju-On movies. Obviously. Please understand that inherent to this kind of guide is that it’s rooted in opinion. If we know each other, you should be able to estimate how well our opinions typically line up — if we don’t, you use this guide at your own risk.

Content notes

Unlike the Ring movies I’ve covered so far, which are much more investigative social dramas with horror elements, the Ju-On films are much closer to scare delivery mechanisms, and depict some pretty heavy

Inherent to this kind of ghost story is violent, extremely emotion-driven murder, including abuse, violence, and murder by multiple people who are married or otherwise romantically engaged with their victims. Vulnerable women and children die violently, as does a family pet. A child is implied to have been abused before it turns out they’ve died.

Though the actual violence is for the most part either off-screen or implied, the aftermath of these incidents is typically fairly gruesome — multiple characters are seen covered in blood or severely disfigured, both before and after they die.

If you’re used to modern American horror films, there shouldn’t be anything here super out of the ordinary, but if any of this could be potentially unpleasantly upsetting to you, or if you have more specific concerns, I’d always recommend checking the IMDb Parents’ Guide sections or sites like DoesTheDogDie.com before starting these.

The Curse

The two shorts, 4444444444, and Katasumi, are a good way to see if you’re into what Ju-On has to offer. Originally released in 1998 as part of an obscure anthology film, these present two short, standalone scenes that are essentially missing chapters from Ju-On: The Curse — when you watch that one, you’ll likely recognise where they’d fit in. They don’t get into the heavier stuff, but if you don’t get on with these, you’re not gonna like the films. And if you do? Have I got good news for you.

Because Ju-On: The Curse is terrific. Its low-fi aesthetic — it appears to have been filmed on a sub-Doctor Who budget, with a 00s digital camera descended from a potato — means its scares are by necessity so raw and physical that you almost can’t do them today. This one’s a must watch. It’s not a flawless film, but it’s got everything you want from one of these if you’re interested in them at all.

Speaking of chapters from Ju-On: The CurseJu-On: The Curse 2 opens with almost 30 minutes reused pretty directly from the first movie. If you’re watching these right after each other, you’re genuinely not missing anything if you skip straight ahead to the new stuff — in my copy, that would mean skipping to 33:49, but given variable encoding and regional stuff, I’d suggest playing it safe and skipping to around 28 minutes in, at which point you should be well into the scenes with the psychic. After that, Ju-On: The Curse 2 is essentially just more of Ju-On: The Curse, which unfortunately already had everything you want, leaving this one with very little meat left on the bone. Some stuff set up here is followed up on in later films, but this one is very skippable.

The Grudge

Ju-On: The Grudge is as much a remake or a do-over as it is a sequel — now with a higher budget and cameras unrelated to the noble root vegetable family potatum potatus, this one is technically set later in the Ju-On timeline, but in trying to be a good jumping-on point for a new cinema audience also just straight up plays a lot of the same cards as Ju-On: The Curse. That means that if you don’t have access to The Curse, or just want a shorter watchlist, this is your must watch — but if you did watch The Curse and enjoyed it, this is still very much a sequel well worth your time.

After the more-of-the-samer and the remakequel, Ju-On: The Grudge 2 takes a yet different approach to being a sequel by just putting new characters in the old situation. It’s all a little meaner, nastier, further removed from the nuance of the original, and at this point, if, like me, you’re tired of the various nonsenses that are going on here, you might be tempted to tap out1I would, of course, never tap out. Never surrender, never give up. — but there’s several cool sequences here, one of which was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Worth your time.

Next: American Rings and Grudges.

  • 1
    I would, of course, never tap out. Never surrender, never give up.
© Alex Daily. Powered by ClassicPress. The theme is Blogging Here by me, Alex Daily. More information in the colophon.