Ju-On (franchise)

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Ju-on logo.png
Franchise logo
Created byTakashi Shimizu
Original workKatasumi and 4444444444 (1998)
Print publications
  • Ju-On (2003)
  • Ju-On 2 (2003)
  • Ju-On (2005)
  • Ju-On: White Ghost (2009)
  • Ju-On: Black Ghost (2009)
  • Ju-On: The Beginning of the End (2014)
  • Ju-On: The Final Curse (2015)
  • Ju-On: Video Side
  • Ju-On: Vol. 2
  • The Grudge
Graphic novel(s)The Grudge 1.5
Films and television
Short film(s)
Video game(s)Ju-On: The Grudge (2009)
  • Ju-On: The Grudge
  • Ju-On: The Grudge 2
  • The Grudge
  • The Grudge 2
PachinkoCR Ju-On

Ju-On (呪怨, Juon, lit. "Curse Grudge", also known as The Grudge) is a Japanese-American horror franchise created by Takashi Shimizu. The franchise began in 1998 with the release of the short films Katsumi and 4444444444. Shimizu attended the Film School of Tokyo, where he studied under Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Kurosawa helped Shimizu shepherd the Ju-On projects to fruition.[1]

The Ju-On films generally revolve around a curse created in a house in Nerima, Tokyo (or Suginami in the American films) when Takeo Saeki, convinced that his wife Kayako was having an affair with another man, murdered her, their son Toshio and Toshio's pet cat in a jealous rage. According to Ju-On, when a person dies with a deep and powerful rage, a curse is born. The curse gathers in the place where that person has died or where they were frequently at, and repeats itself there. The spirits of the deceased haunt the location, potentially killing anyone who encounters the curse by any means, such as entering a cursed house or being in contact with somebody who was already cursed. The curse's manifestation is mainly death, where the victims' bodies may or may not disappear. The following deaths may create more curses and spread them to other locations.

The franchise consists, to date, of 13 films (9 Japanese productions, 4 American) alongside various additional media and merchandise products.[2]


Shimizu stated in an interview that the inspiration for Ju-On came from his own personal fears as a child, and from a Japanese dance group that would paint their nude bodies white and perform. Shimizu found the performance frightening and decided to "paint [his] ghosts white". He also mentioned that the rise in the number of domestic abuse cases emerging in Japan during production of his previous films gave him ideas about the origins of the story.[3]

The title of the Japanese films translates roughly to "Curse Grudge", or more abstractly, a curse created due to an individual bearing a grudge against someone or something. The first two films in the series were so-called V-Cinema, or direct-to-video releases, but became surprise hits as the result of favorable word of mouth. Both films were shot in nine days and feature a story that is a variation on the classic haunted house theme, as well as a popular Japanese horror trope, the "vengeful ghost" (onryō). The titular curse, ju-on, is one which takes on a life of its own and seeks new victims. Anyone who encounters a ghost killed by the curse is killed themselves and the curse is able to be spread to other areas.

Under very tight budgetary constraints, Shimizu's films garnered much acclaim from both critics and genre fans for their effective use of limited locations and eerie atmosphere to generate chills. Shimizu was at the same time perfectly willing to show his ghosts onscreen, in contrast to some directors who might choose only to hint at their appearance. But critics noted that Shimizu's minimalist approach to directing and storytelling—a necessary by-product of the production's limited overall resources—allows the films to retain their ability to unnerve viewers. Very few scenes in the movies are graphically bloody, making such scenes more disturbing when they occur.[3]

Following the success of the two direct-to-video films, and the international success of Hideo Nakata's Ring (1998), Kurosawa and Ring screenwriter Hiroshi Takahashi helped Shimizu develop a theatrical Ju-On sequel starring Megumi Okina and Takako Fuji. The first theatrical feature film, Ju-On: The Grudge, was released in 2003 to critical acclaim and the US remake rights were purchased, with Shimizu himself attached to direct and Sarah Michelle Gellar starring.[4] Later that year, another Japanese theatrical installment, Ju-On: The Grudge 2 was released. Due to the major success of the remake, an American sequel was released. The film was not a remake and followed a unique storyline, albeit still drawing inspiration from several Japanese films.[5] 2014's The Beginning of The End, in turn drew inspiration from The Grudge 2.[6] The most recent American sequel, 2009's The Grudge 3, is set shortly after the events of the second film. The same year, the tenth anniversary of the series, two new sequels, Ju-On: White Ghost and Ju-On: Black Ghost premiered in simultaneous screenings in Japanese theaters. The films' storyline deviated from the cursed Saeki family, which all previous films had followed, instead focusing on two unrelated but also ill-fated families.

In 2014, the fifteenth anniversary of the Ju-On franchise, a new installment was released, titled Ju-On: The Beginning of the End. The film is a reboot of the series that features a new backstory regarding the curse while still featuring the Saeki family as an integral part of the plot. The film was followed by a 2015 sequel, Ju-On: The Final Curse, which served as the supposed final film in the series. Both films had no significant input from series creator Shimizu. In 2016, a crossover film, Sadako vs. Kayako was released.

On March 20, 2014, it was announced that an American reboot was in the works, written by Jeff Buhler and produced by Sam Raimi, as with all previous American installments. The film was released in January 2020 and is the only release in the franchise, along with The Grudge 3, to have a primarily American setting.[7]


Ju-On timeline[edit]

Ju-On originally started off with two short films which were included as vignettes in Gakkō no kaidan G. The story of these shorts was later further explored in two low-budget, V-Cinema, Japanese television movies in 2000, both shot in the course of nine days. Three years later, due to the success of the videos, director Takashi Shimizu made a theatrical sequel to the V-Cinema videos, titled Ju-On: The Grudge. Another sequel was released in 2003, titled Ju-On: The Grudge 2 (or simply Ju-On 2). A year later Takashi Shimizu directed The Grudge, the American remake. It is primarily based on the first theatrical version of Ju-On, but it contains scenes re-enacted from all of the Ju-On movies. Following The Grudge 2 and 3 (released in Japan as Juon: Pandemic, and Juon - The Grudge 3), in 2009, two films titled Ju-On: White Ghost and Black Ghost were released in honour of the series' tenth anniversary. 2014's Ju-On: The Beginning of the End and 2015's Ju-On: The Final Curse are set in an alternate continuity that altered much of the series' original backstory.


Katasumi follows the demise of Kanna and her classmate, Hisayo. They are feeding rabbits at school when Kayako, the ghost in the series and the curse's fulfiller, attacks them both.
4444444444 follows the death of Tsuyoshi, Kanna's older brother. Tsuyoshi comes to school to meet his girlfriend, Mizuho, and finds a mysterious ringing cell phone whose caller ID shows a strange number, 4444444444 (The number 4 in Japanese is a homophone of the Japanese character for "death"). The ghost of Toshio, Kayako's son and also one of the curse's fulfillers, appears and takes Tsuyoshi; his body is never found.

The stories of Kanna and Tsuyoshi are further extended in Ju-On: The Curse.


The first Ju-On follows the lives of the people connected to a house in Nerima, Tokyo where a gruesome murder of a housewife occurred. School teacher Shunsuke Kobayashi visits the home of his absent student, Toshio, where he discovers the boy beaten and bruised. He waits for Toshio's parents to come but soon realizes what the Saeki family has become and is killed, his wife and unborn child being murdered as well by Kayako's crazed husband Takeo after he learned Kayako was obsessively in love with Kobayashi. Takeo is in turn killed by Kayako's ghost. The movie also explores the fates of the next family to live in the house, the Murakami family, as well as two people who come in contact with them, including Mizuho Tamura, who is killed while waiting for her boyfriend Tsuyoshi at the school. The film extends the stories of Tsuyoshi and Kanna from Katasumi and 4444444444. The last segment shows a snippet of Kyoko Suzuki's arrival, a psychic who was invited by her brother to explore the house that he was going to sell, which was the cursed Saeki house. This movie showed death or vanishing as the curse's result.
Chiaki Kuriyama as Mizuho Tamura in Ju-On: The Curse
  • Ju-On: The Curse 2 (V-Cinema); (Available only in Japan, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, France and Belgium)
Ju-on: The Curse 2 continues the story of Kyoko Suzuki and shows how the curse fatally affected her and everyone in her family. A large portion of this film is a recap of the previous installment. It also portrays the story of a couple, the Kitadas, living in the house as the wife becomes possessed by Kayako's spirit and murders her husband. The film features the extended storyline of Detective Kamio from Ju-on: The Curse. The Curse 2 also introduces a group of school girls who had sneaked into the house, one of them being Izumi Toyama, whose story would be continued in Ju-On: The Grudge.


Ju-On: The Grudge centers around the fate of social worker Rika Nishina. Rika comes to visit the house of Tokunagas (the old Saeki house) where she was summoned after the social worker assigned to the house has disappeared. Surviving a terrible experience in that house, she discovers the truth behind the deaths connected to the house. It was later revealed that Rika was the one destined to play out the curse: she was to die the same way Kayako did and become the next fulfiller of the Ju-on. In this movie, it was revealed that the curse has some time-traveling capabilities (or residual haunting) where a victim may see another victim from another time frame. An example is Det. Yuji Toyama seeing what will happen to his daughter, Izumi, years after his death when she enters the house. Izumi was only 12 years old when Yuji died and when she entered the house at 16, she sees her father just before he encounters Kayako. However, this is not just prior to his death, because he runs out of the house and it is later revealed by Izumi's mother that he went insane before he died.

It is worth noting that this film and its sequel are not remakes of the V-Cinema films, as is commonly believed but are, in fact, sequels.


Ju-On: The Grudge 2 revolves around the actress Kyoko Harase and her pregnancy. After a car accident caused by Toshio's ghost, Kyoko apparently miscarries. When her doctor assures her of a healthy pregnancy, Kyoko becomes perplexed. It is revealed that Kyoko was involved with a horror television production filmed at a haunted house - the house of the Saekis in Nerima. Producer Keisuke finds Kyoko and informs her that most members of the film crew have either been killed or gone missing. The outcome of Kyoko's pregnancy is horrifyingly revealed as she gives birth to Kayako. Several years later, a child version of Kayako pushes her new mother, Kyoko, off an overpass and kills her. She is then seen walking away into the streets.


This was largely a remake of Ju-On: The Grudge, following the story of Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a social worker assigned to take care of Emma Williams. The movie varies slightly from the original, because Karen burns the house and survives the curse. However, the house is saved.


The film tells the story of a school-girl called Allison who was pressured to enter the house by her friends Vanessa and Miyuki. The curse follows her to Chicago even though she tries to escape it, causing her Chicago apartment to be cursed. The film also follows the story of Aubrey, Karen's younger sister, on her quest to stop the curse after Karen falls to her death from a hospital roof.


In honor of the 10th anniversary of the Ju-On series Ju-On: White Ghost and Ju-On: Black Ghost premiered in simultaneous screenings in theaters in Japan on June 27, 2009.[8] Takashi Shimizu and Taka Ichise returned to supervise the films' production, each with a different director.
Black Ghost revolves around a girl named Fukie who has been having bizarre attacks accompanied by a death rattle. Test results show a cyst inside Fukie’s body, but that cyst is actually the physical remnant of a twin that Fukie's body partially absorbed in the womb. The cyst holds a grudge for not being born and influences several characters to commit murder sprees via spiritual possession. Fukie's mother, Kiwako takes the spirit (inside Fukie's body) and jumps off the hospital rooftop with it, killing them both. However, this leads to the spirit being released from the body.
White Ghost revolves around a son that brutally murdered all five of his family members and ultimately hanged himself. One of the victims was his niece Mirai, who he had sexually abused. Mirai's former friend Akane saw evidence that she was being sexually abused by her uncle, but did not help her. Several years later Mirai's spirit came to haunt her.


Produced and co-written by Takashige Ichise with Masayuki Ochiai directing and co-writing,[9] this is the first film in the franchise that has no involvement from series creator Takashi Shimizu. Unlike White Ghost and Black Ghost, the film features the Saeki family, including Takeo, Kayako, and Toshio, albeit with an altered backstory.
The Beginning of the End includes two storylines, one set in 2004 that focuses on four schoolgirls who disappeared one by one since their visit to the cursed house, and one set ten years afterward in 2014, which follows Yui Shono, a new elementary schoolteacher whose life is tainted with the curse after a visit to the house of an absent student, Toshio Saeki.


The eleventh and final installment was released in 2015, again produced and co-written by Takashige Ichise and directed and co-written by Masayuki Ochiai. It follows the new continuity established by The Beginning of the End.[10]
The Final Curse follows Mai, the older sister of The Beginning of the End lead character, Yui Shono, as she becomes involved with the curse while searching for the whereabouts of her missing sister.


The latest installment sees a crossover between Ju-On and fellow Japanese horror series Ring, pitting Kayako against Sadako Yamamura. At the end of the movie, both ghosts combine atop Sadako's well, into which a girl named Yuri Kurahashi, having decided to use herself as a bait, had jumped. After they fuse together, they become one powerful ghost named Sadakaya.


In March 2014, it was officially announced that Ghost House Pictures and Good Universe would be rebooting the franchise and that Jeff Buhler would be writing the film.[11] Buhler stated that the reboot would feature all new characters and ghosts and not tie-in to the mythology of the original series.[12] In July 2017, it was announced that Nicolas Pesce was set to direct the film, and would also be rewriting the script based on Buhler's draft.[13] On March 2, 2018 it was reported that Andrea Riseborough was in talks to star in the film, and on March 15, 2018 it was confirmed that Riseborough and Demian Bichir had officially joined the cast. It was also announced that the film would begin production in May 2018 and that Sony Pictures had acquired worldwide distribution rights.[14][15] On March 16, 2018 it was announced that John Cho had joined the cast.[16]


In September 2019, The Grudge director Nicolas Pesce expressed interest in a crossover film between The Grudge and the American The Ring film series, which was done for the first time in 2016 with Sadako vs. Kayako.[17] In January 2020, Pesce expressed further interest in a sequel being set in both a different part of the world than America or Japan, and in a different "less contemporary" time period compared to previous films.[18]

Box office performance[edit]

Japanese films[edit]

Film Release date Box office gross
Japan United States and Canada Other territories
Ju-on: The Grudge 18 October 2002 ¥500,000,000[19] $325,680[20] $9,306,043[a]
Ju-on: The Grudge 2 23 August 2003 ¥1,100,000,000[25] $511,350[26] $4,375,425[b]
Ju-On: The Beginning of the End 28 June 2014 ¥570,000,000[28] N/A $4,082,954[29]
Ju-On: The Final Curse 20 June 2015 ¥419,000,000[30] N/A $1,724,642[c]
Sadako vs. Kayako 18 June 2016 ¥1,000,000,000[33] N/A $884,250[d]
Regional total ¥3,170,000,000 ($38,479,876) $837,031 $20,373,314
Worldwide total $59,686,275

American films[edit]


Several Ju-On print publications were published by Kadokawa in Japan, and Dark Horse Comics in North America between 2003 and 2015. Every single Ju-On film has received a novel adaptation, except for The Grudge 3.


In 2003, novelizations of stories from the series were written by Kei Ohishi. The first novel, Ju-on, elaborates on events and characters from Ju-On: The Curse, The Curse 2 and Ju-On: The Grudge. A novel titled Ju-On 2 was released the same year, which elaborates on the events from Ju-On: The Grudge 2.[35] Novelizations of Ju-On: White Ghost and Black Ghost were published in 2009. Ju-On 2, White Ghost and Black Ghost did not receive English translations. In 2014, a novelization of The Beginning of the End was released and a novelization of The Final Curse in 2015.

Official Japanese-language novelizations of the American films were also written by Kei Ohishi,[36]the first being a novelization of The Grudge (released in Japan as The Juon), which was published in 2005 and generally follows the premise of the film faithfully. A novelization of its sequel, The Grudge 2 (released in Japan as Ju-On: Pandemic), was published later on in 2007. The novels were all published by Kadokawa Shoten and only the first novel received an English translation.


Two manga adaptations were released in 2003 in Japan and 2006 in the US, titled Ju-On: Video Side and Ju-On: Vol. 2. The manga follows events from the series that were omitted in the novels.

Video game[edit]

In honor of the series' 10th anniversary, a game, titled Ju-On: The Grudge – Haunted House Simulator was developed for the Wii. The game was released in Japan in 2009 by AQ Interactive under the title Kyoufu Taikan: Ju-On (Fear Experience: Ju-On), and in Europe under the title Ju-On: A Fright Simulator. Upon release, the game was critically panned.

The video game was confirmed on May 22, 2009. Shortly afterwards, a demo of the game was unveiled at E3 2009, where Xseed Games described it as a "haunted house simulator," rather than a traditional survival horror game. The game does not feature any combat, as its format relies on subtle exploration and scare tactics. Joystiq reviewers who were present for the demo's screening at the E3 justified this, observing that, "In most horror games, a skilled player can actually defeat the creatures (with notable exceptions like Silent Hill 2's Pyramid Head ...), making the game more of a power fantasy than a true fright. In both of these games [Silent Hill 2 and Ju-On: The Grudge], you can escape the creatures at best."[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ju-on (2002) overseas box office:
    • South Korea – 1,016,928 admissions in 2003[21] – ₩7,118,496,000[22] ($5,973,847)[23]
    • Other territories – $3,332,196[24]
  2. ^ Ju-on 2 (2002) overseas box office:
    • South Korea – 440,000 admissions in 2003[27] – ₩3.08 billion[22] ($2,584,738)[23]
    • Other territories – $1,790,687[26]
  3. ^ The Final Curse (2002) overseas box office:
    • South Korea – ₩462,659,400[31] ($409,014)
    • Other territories – $1,315,628[32]
  4. ^ Sadako vs. Kayako (2016) overseas box office:
    • South Korea – ₩202,716,000[27] ($184,189)
    • Other territories – $704,922[34]


  1. ^ Takashi Shimizu's Ju-on
  2. ^ Ju-on (呪怨) series
  3. ^ a b "Ju-On: The Interview". NeoMag. 2013. Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  4. ^ "The Grudge – An Interview with Sam Rami and Rob Tappert". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  5. ^ "Takashi Shimizu Interview on Grudge 2 and the Ju-On Movies". Movies.about.com. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
  6. ^ "Takashi Shimizu Interview". Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  7. ^ "Horror Hit 'The Grudge' Going Reboot Route". deadline.com. March 20, 2014. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  8. ^ White Ghost, Black Ghost in 'Ju-On' Sequels
  9. ^ Seventh Ju-on
  10. ^ 呪怨 -ザ・ファイナル-
  11. ^ Horror Hit ‘The Grudge’ Going Reboot Route
  12. ^ Exclusive: Screenwriter Jeff Buhler Talks The Grudge Reboot
  13. ^ ‘The Grudge’ Reboot Gets Nicolas Pesce To Direct For Ghost House
  14. ^ Andrea Riseborough Circling Sony’s ‘The Grudge’, Amazon-Sky Mini ‘Zero Zero Zero’
  15. ^ ‘The Grudge’: Andrea Riseborough, Demian Bichir to Star in Horror Reimagining (EXCLUSIVE)
  16. ^ ‘Grudge’ Reimagining Taps John Cho (EXCLUSIVE)
  17. ^ https://bloody-disgusting.com/news/3584775/nicolas-pesce-confirms-new-grudge-canonical-2004-version-exclusive/
  18. ^ https://bloody-disgusting.com/movie/3599114/grudge-sequels-explore-time-periods-exclusive/
  19. ^ "2003年度 日本映画・外国映画 業界総決算 経営/製作/配給/興行のすべて". Kinema Junpo. Kinema Junposha (2004年(平成16年)2月下旬号): 160. 2004.
  20. ^ Ju-on: The Grudge at Box Office Mojo Retrieved 8 September 2013
  21. ^ "영화정보". KOFIC. Korean Film Council. Retrieved February 1, 2019. The Grudge
  22. ^ a b "Screen Industry Snapshot Korea". Austrade. Government of Australia. September 26, 2017. p. 49. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  23. ^ a b "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average)". World Bank. 2003. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  24. ^ "Ju-On: The Grudge (2004) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  25. ^ "2003年(平成15年)興収10億円以上番組" (PDF). Eiren. Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  26. ^ a b "Ju-on: The Grudge 2". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  27. ^ a b "영화정보". KOFIC. Korean Film Council. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  28. ^ "2015年3月下旬 映画業界決算特別号". Kinema Junpo: 102. 2015.
  29. ^ "Ju-on: Owari no hajimari". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  30. ^ "2016年3月下旬 映画業界決算特別号". Kinema Junpo: 84. 2016.
  31. ^ "영화정보". KOFIC. Korean Film Council. Retrieved February 1, 2019. Juon The Final
  32. ^ "Ju-on: The Final Curse". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  33. ^ "2016". Eiren. Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  34. ^ "Sadako vs. Kayako". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  35. ^ 呪怨<2>
  36. ^ THE GRUDGE novel
  37. ^ Fletcher, JC (June 7, 2009). "Impressions: Ju-on: The Grudge (Wii)". Joystiq. Retrieved June 17, 2009.

External links[edit]