Ju-On 2
directed by Takashi Shimizu
(Horizon, 2000)

As a fan of Japanese film and horror in general, combined with the approach of Halloween (at the time of this review), I figured I'd write about the last horror film I'd seen recently: Ju-On 2. For those who don't know, the original Ju-On was remade in America (by the same writer/director, Takashi Shimizu) as The Grudge. In anticipation for the premiere of The Grudge 2, Ju-On 2 found its way to my video store shelves.

How close it will be to the remake I cannot say, but from what little I have heard so far it appears very different. Ju-On 2 I found to be a jumbled affair. My initial impression after seeing the film was that the director had written a computer program that takes elements of Asian horror and outputs a randomized storyline. Maybe I'm becoming immune to these types of films, but I found the viewing experience to be largely apathetic -- which is not to say that it wasn't interesting. There's plenty of creepy activity going on. It's just that I wasn't affected by it or felt any particular bond with the characters as they become victimized by the exploits of the ghost boy and his croaky mom.

I think it was more of a case of "sequel strain," the failed effort of trying to make a film that exceeds the original. The actors seem to also be feeling this strain. Despite sincere effort and performances. The storyline, as mentioned above, is jumbled but not incoherent. It jumps from character to character as each meets his or her individual demise using the "main" character, a pregnant actress, as a sort of hub. The timeline is also mixed, which is one of the parts of the movie I did like, particularly in one mangaesque sequence involving a couple who hears strange bumping sounds in their apartment, and the events that follow.

Sadly, the parts of the movie I did like a lot are outweighed by the parts I did not. I recommend staying with the great original Ju-On or Hideo Nakata's Ringu, which are excellent on many levels.

by Stefan Abley
11 November 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.