Ju-On: The Grudge
|Ju-on: The Grudge|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Takashi Shimizu|
|Produced by||Taka Ichise|
|Written by||Takashi Shimizu|
|Music by||Shiro Sato|
|Edited by||Nobuyuki Takahashi|
|Distributed by||Lions Gate Films (US)|
Ju-on: The Grudge is a 2002 Japanese supernatural horror film written and directed by Takashi Shimizu. This film is the third installment in the Ju-on series and the first film to be theatrically released (the first two entries being direct-to-video productions). The film premiered at the Screamfest Film Festival in October 2002 and has spawned several sequels and an American remake titled The Grudge, which was released in 2004. The film was followed by Ju-on: The Grudge 2.
The film’s story takes place over a number of years and like the other Ju-on films, is told in a non-linear order in six segments. The segments are presented in the following order: Rika (理佳), Katsuya (勝也), Hitomi (仁美), Toyama (遠山), Izumi (いづみ), and Kayako (伽椰子). The synopsis shall be told in the chronological order of events.
Several years ago, Takeo Saeki murdered his wife Kayako after discovering she was in love with another man, also murdering the family cat Mar and possibly his son Toshio. The murders created a curse that revived the family as onryō, with Kayako’s ghost murdering Takeo out on the street. Whoever enters the house in Nerima, Tokyo, is eventually consumed by the curse and it spreads to the place they die in, consuming anyone in turn who goes there.
The latest owners of the house are the Tokunaga family, consisting of businessman Katsuya, his wife Kazumi, and his elderly ill mother Sachie. Kazumi is quickly consumed by the curse, and Katsuya is emotionally affected by Takeo’s personality before dying too. Katsuya’s sister Hitomi is haunted by Kayako at her office, fleeing home, only to be consumed by the curse in her own bed. Social worker Rika is sent by her boss Hirohashi to care for Sachie, but she finds the woman in a sorry state and her family missing. Rika hears cat noises and discovers Toshio hiding in a taped up closet. She contacts Hirohashi for help, and then witnesses Sachie being killed by Kayako’s ghost, causing her to faint.
Shortly after, Hirohashi finds Rika and contacts the police. Detectives Nakagawa and Igarashi discover Katsuya and Kazumi’s bodies in the attic, and later learn of Hitomi’s disappearance and the death of a security guard at her workplace. Later on, Hirohashi’s body is discovered, and Rika is haunted by the ghosts. Upon researching the history of the house and the Saeki murders, Nakagawa and Igarashi contact a retired detective named Toyama, who is afraid of revisiting the case. Toyama watches footage from Hitomi’s office, witnessing a security guard being consumed by the curse and is frightened by Kayako. He goes to burn the house down but hears a group of teenage girls speak upstairs, but one flees the house while the others are consumed. Kayako appears, chasing Toyama away but kills Nakagawa and Igarashi.
Several years later, Rika has moved on with her life. Her friend Mariko, an elementary school teacher, pays a visit to Toshio who is registered as her student but has never shown up for class. Rika races to save her but is too late. Kayako’s ghost crawls down the stairs after her, prompting Rika to cover her face with her hands, only to witness Kayako briefly take on her appearance. Kayako disappears and Rika realizes that she is doomed to play out the curse and the same fate as Kayako. Takeo’s ghost appears and kills her, as confirmed by a news report. Toyama died at some point, leaving his daughter Izumi behind. As a teenager, Izumi goes to the house with her friends but flees the house, while her friends are killed by Kayako; this being the event Toyama witnessed in the past.
Izumi is wrought with guilt for abandoning her friends and becomes increasingly paranoid and unstable, covering her bedroom window with newspapers. Two of her other friends Chiharu and Miyuki visit, and Izumi admits her guilt to them. After leaving, her friends inspect printed photos from a recent school trip and discover Izumi and her dead friends have their eyes blackened out. Izumi encounters a vision of her dead father, then discovers the newspapers have been removed from her window, revealing the ghosts of her friends watching her. Izumi is cornered by her dead friends, only for Kayako to appear behind her and drag her into damnation and joining her father.
The final scene of the film shows deserted Tokyo streets with many missing persons posters lying on the ground, and Rika’s corpse lies in the house’s attic, only to spring to life with a chilling death rattle.
- Megumi Okina as Rika Nishina
- Misaki Ito as Hitomi Tokunaga
- Misa Uehara as Izumi Toyama
- Tomomi Kobayashi as Young Izumi
- Takashi Matsuyama as Takeo Saeki
- Yuya Ozeki as Toshio Saeki
- Takako Fuji as Kayako Saeki
- Yui Ichikawa as Chiharu
- Kanji Tsuda as Katsuya Tokunaga
- Kayoko Shibata as Mariko
- Hideo Sakaki as Welfare Center Clerk
- Miho Fujima as Joshi Ana
- Yukako Kukuri as Miyuki
- Shuri Matsuda as Kazumi Tokunaga
- Yōji Tanaka as Yûji Tôyama
- Yoshiyuki Morishita as Keibiin
In 2004, Sony Pictures Entertainment released an American remake of the film. The film was directed by Takashi Shimizu and starred Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jason Behr. The main plot of the film followed Rika's experience within the house but with a different ending. Its sequel, The Grudge 2, however, mirrors a similar ending where Aubrey meets the same fate as Rika.
Ju-on: The Grudge was shown on 18 October 2002 at the Screamfest Horror Film Festival in Los Angeles California under the title The Grudge. The film was also released as part of the Toronto International Film Festival's "Midnight Madness" screening in September 2003. The film received a limited theatrical release in the United States on 23 July 2004.
In the United States, the film grossed a total of $325,680 from 23 July – 9 December 2004. Ju-on: The Grudge was released on DVD by Lions Gate on 9 November 2004. The disc contains an audio commentary with Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel and interviews with the cast and crew.
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At Metacritic, a website which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 for reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 48, based on 22 reviews indicating "mixed or average reviews". The Washington Post gave the film a mixed reviewing, stating that it "isn't particularly scary. No, it's much harder on you than mere fright: It's . . . creepy" and "it lacks any interest in conventional narrative and doesn't bother with hero or heroine, or with any sense of coherency, of any mechanism of solution of its mystery." David Kehr of The New York Times compared the film unfavorably to The Ring (1998), opining that Ju-on: The Grudge "turns into a rote series of killings, with each new sequence introduced by a title with the name of its primary victim. Because there is a new hero to identify with every 10 minutes, the viewer isn't drawn into a sustained suspense, but is merely subjected to a series of more or less foreseeable shocks." Kim Newman gave the film three stars out of five in Empire, noting that "As a film, it is at once too much a part of an overarching story and divided into too many episodes to be all of a piece. However, as a sustained collection of scare moments, it's a winner." Derek Elley compared the film unfavorably to both The Ring and Dark Water, writing that "In the end, “The Grudge” comes down to little more than when and where the ghostly little boy will next appear, and the final explanation is so-what."
- Elley, Derek (28 October 2003). "Review: ‘The Grudge’". Variety. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- "JU-ON: THE GRUDGE (15)". Medusa Communications & Marketing. British Board of Film Classification. 14 August 2003. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
- Ju-on: The Grudge at Box Office Mojo Retrieved 8 September 2013
- "The Grudge". Screamfest Horror Film Festival. Archived from the original on 20 October 2002. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- Cooper, Tracie. "Ju-on: The Grudge". Allmovie. All Media Guide. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- "Ju-On: The Grudge (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- "Ju-on: The Grudge". Allmovie. All Media Guide. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- Weissberg, Jay (24 November 2003). "Review: ‘The Grudge 2’". Variety. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- "Ju-on: The Grudge". Metacritic. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- Hunter, Stephen (15 October 2004). "'Ju-On': It's Sure To Give You The Creeps". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- Kehr, David (23 July 2004). "Beware the Ghosts in the Closet (and Virtually Everywhere Else)". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- Newman, Kim. "Ju-On: The Grudge". Empire. Retrieved 27 September 2014.