I just can’t seem to get away from the memories of Dragoncon. Yes, even though this movie, or the American remake which you are probably more familiar with, came out over a decade ago, you still occasionally will find someone who has dressed up their child as the creepy little ghost boy from today’s movie. Man, the first part of this century was all about the J-Horror remakes. In some ways this was good as it brought a series of movies over that most Americans never would have watched otherwise and some of them, like me, would want to watch the original versions. The 2004 movie, The Grudge, was a remake of today’s movie, Ju-On: The Grudge.
The plot: Rika, a social worker in Tokyo, has just been assigned to care for an elderly woman named Sachie, whose family is missing. When Rika arrives at the house, she discovers that house is a complete mess and finds Sachie laying on the floor in a somewhat catatonic state. As she attempts to clean up the house, Rika hears a scratching sound coming from a taped up closet and when she opens the door, she discovers a small boy trapped inside. Rika calls her boss and tells him what she found but he tells her to stay at the house until the family arrives. Rika talks to the boy, who says his name is Toshio, then she goes to check on Sachie, but when she sees Sachie killed by a ghost, Rika faints. The movie then focuses on Sachie’s son Katsuya and his wife Kazumi. After being kept awake most of the night by noises, which she assumes was coming from Sachie, Kazumi is taking a nap on the couch when something being knocked over wakes her up. She assumes it is Sachie but as she goes to check on her, she hears the sound of running feet and a door closing. Searching the house, she sees a black cat on the stairs but as she begins to follow it, a pair of hands reach out and grab the cat. Thinking that a kid is hiding in the house, she continues upstairs, where she soon screams. Katsuya returns home from work and finds Kazumi laying on the bed. Hearing strange noises, Katsuya searches the room and comes face to face with the ghost of Toshio, who disappears just as Kazumi dies. Katsuya’s sister, Hitomi, comes over for dinner but Katsuya, beginning to act strange, tells her to go home and shoves her out the door, before he heads back upstairs, where a ghostly visage is seen looking through a window. The movie then jumps to Hitomi, who calls Katsuya’s house but gets the answering machine. As she is walking through her office building, she hears a strange noise but doesn’t see anything. After using the restroom, Hitomi receives a call from her brother’s house, but all she hears is a strange creaking sound. Hanging up the phone, she still hears the sound and when a black shape begins exiting the stall next to her, she runs from there and heads to the security office. After she relates what happened, the security guard goes to check out the restroom, and Hitomi watches on the monitors as a shadow surrounds the guard and he disappears. Hitom rushes home, where she receives a call from her brother saying that he is at her apartment but when she opens the door, he is not there and the creaking sound begins coming from the phone. Hitomi runs to her room and hides under the covers, but she is soon confronted by a ghostly figure and disappears. Back at the house, Rika’s boss Hirohashi goes to the house and discovers the body of Sachie and a catatonic Rika. When the police get there, the lead detectives hears a phone ringing and their search eventually leads them to the attic, where they discover the bodies of Katsuya and Kazumi. At the hospital, the detective questions Rika about what she saw and informs her that the family did not have any children. After researching the house, they contact a retired detective named Toyama, who worked a homicide at the house where the husband, Takeo, killed his wife, Kayako, his son, Toshio, and the family cat, then was found dead on a nearby road. Toyama is brought to the police department and is watching the video of the night Hitomi disappears and sees the security guard consumed by a shadow, then the shadow engulfs the screen and a pair of eyes stare out at Toyama. Meanwhile, Rika is attempting to get some sleep when she sees both Toshio and Kayako in her room. Later that night, Toyama decides to burn the house where the murders occurred down, but when he hears a bunch of girls voices coming from upstairs, he opens the door, finding the room lit in daylight, and sees a teenage girl run downstairs, stare at him, before she leaves the house. Toyama heads upstairs where he sees another room, bathed in daylight, where several girls are talking before they are suddenly attacked by the ghost of Kayako. Toyama runs from the house, briefly struggling with the two detectives before he makes out, leaving the detectives to be killed by Kayako. Years later, Toyama’s daughter Izumi, who happens to be the girl Toyama saw in the house, is dealing with the guilt of leaving her friends in that house. When she gets home, she hears a news report talking about Rika’s death. Two of Izumi;s friends come over and see Izumi acting paranoid, having covered her window with newspaper to prevent any light from coming in. Izumi tells her friends about the day their friends disappeared and as they are leaving, the two friends look through some pictures they had brought for Izumi, only to discover that Izumi and the missing friends all have dark marks around their eyes in all of the pictures. That night, Izumi dreams about her dad and after waking up, the ghosts of her friends appear and chase her though the house, until Kayako grabs her and drags her away. The film then jumps back to Rika (before she dies during the Izumi part), who has moved on with her life after several years. She meets up with her friend Mariko, who is telling Rika about a problem child that she is going to visit. During lunch, Rika feels something hit her foot and when she looks under the table, she sees Toshio and grows upset, realizing that the ghosts will not leave her alone. Heading back home, Rika receives a call from Mariko, who has gone to the kid’s house and found the kid there but the parent’s are not home. Hearing noises on the phone, Rika realizes that the kid Mariko is talking about is Toshiro and she rushes to the house to save her friend. When she gets there, she sees Mariko being dragged upstairs into the attic. She then sees Kayako crawling towards her and runs downstairs but she sees Kayako crawling down the stairs after her and Rika realizes that she is doomed to die and sees the ghost of Takeo coming towards her. The movie ends with a deserted Tokyo, covered in missing poster signs before flashing to the dead body of Rika, whose eyes suddenly open and the creaking noise is heard.
I might have to wait until I rewatch the American remake, but I might like the remake a little better. As for this movie on it’s own, it’s not a bad movie but it can be really confusing. The jumping around different plot lines and going back and forth in time can be very distracting from the actual movie. The acting was pretty good, although if you don’t like subtitled films, you probably won’t like this one anyways. Call me somewhat jaded when it comes to horror movies but there were not as many scares as I would expect from a ghost movie but there was a lot of suspense that helped make the movie more effective at being creepy. A decent creepy movie but probably won’t work for everyone.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5