Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Curse of the Grudge.



Ju-On: The Grudge 2
2005, Japan
Takashi Shimizu
35mm

Before too much is said about this film, the production history of the Ju-On series should probably be explained. True to form, the Japanese are engaging in an attempt to take over the Occidental World through a combination of economic takeover and the generation of mass confusion in feeble Western minds, best exemplified by Pokemon, and muddled chronology of the Godzilla series. Basing my theory entirely on the writings of Sax Rohmer, I can only assume that the endless time North American fan boys spend on the internet trying to sort out the various video titles, theatrical releases, and remakes of the Ju-On films is an attempt to distract us with IMDB postings until we wake up one morning to find all our reading material in manga-sized format and the streets running clear with rice wine. Soon, we'll all be fanatically watching and mispronouncing baseball, and will find great honor in killing ourselves over the shame of library late charges and parking tickets. As far as I can sort out, the Ju-On phenomenon started out a TV show, then two direct-to-video films, entitled Ju-On: The Curse parts 1 and 2, or just Ju-On 1 and 2. In a strange reversal of traditional film distribution patterns, the success of the videos brought the film to the big screen, with Ju-on: The Grudge. This is kind of a weird progression, like if C. Thomas Howell suddenly starred in a Speilberg movie after decades of toiling in VHS sci-fi. The theatrical Ju-On spawned the American remake The Grudge, which showed us that the only thing scarier than a long-haired ghost killing Japanese people is a long-haired ghost killing white people. Throw a blond girl in the mix, and you’ve truly struck terror in the hearts of middle America, whose respect for human life tends to extend only so far as baptized Caucasians. Then, we have the latest in the series, Ju-On: The Grudge 2, which follows much the same pattern as the first film, in that a bunch of people go to a haunted house and get killed by black hair and the sound that comes out of videocassette rewinders when they get jammed. This installment has a bit more of a plot than the previous Japanese films, which essentially were catalogues of grisly deaths separated by inter-titles, like a collection of Biograph shorts but with more bleeding eyes, but the film still chops up the chronology like its predecessors, which can be confusing if you’re not paying attention or, like me, you can’t tell any of the characters apart. While I really can’t think of any way I can overcome that particular problem, I’ll admit that it’s probably due a little more to my lack of interest in multi-culturalism and general ignorance than any specific failing on the part of the Asian race, though it wouldn’t kill them to wear name tags. This installment follows a pregnant Japanese horror actress, affectionately referred to as a ‘scream queen’ by characters whose grasp of English leaves much to be desired, especially in regards to the letter R. After shooting scenes for a TV show set in the haunted house, everybody around her dies in grisly ways, after which she gives birth to the kid from The Ring and the movie ends. Sorry to spoil it for you, but aside from a few neat twists in the timeline, the film leaves much to be desired, especially when compared to its predecessors. Well, not the American version, because the only thing less frightening than seeing Buffy get threatened by evil spirits is watching Joxer from Xena get killed, but nevertheless, the movie never quite sustains enough tension to keep my interest through the often misspelled subtitles and seemingly endless screaming.

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