Director: Shimizu Takashi
Shimizu Takashi has built a career on not letting things go. The first Ju-on film (Ju-on: The Curse) was released in 2000 and Shimizu has, at last count, made four Japanese Grudge films and two American. The Grudge 2, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, opens this weekend in North America. Kayako has become this cycle’s Freddy Krueger, a remorseless killing machine who manages to survive film after film, killing dozens of people. Thankfully, unlike the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Ju-on has not yet degraded into self-parody and can still manage some decent scares.
As in the other films in the series, Ju-on: The Grudge 2 seems to only be connected to the earlier films through Kayako and the cursed house. Conceivably, this series could continue without end, new victims and frightening situations bleeding into each other over and over. While I enjoy these films, I do get the feeling that eventually the dead horse won’t take another beating.
That said, in this film Shimizu does add another twist to the Ju-on mythos that creates new possibilities… Ju-on: The Grudge 3 is also forthcoming (said to be the ‘fifth and final instalment’), and it’ll be interesting to see what develops from this twist. As well, there are some clever meta-filmic references (one of the characters is an actress known as ‘the Horror Queen’), an inclusion that helps add depth to the narrative.
The scares in Ju-on: The Grudge 3 are, for the most part, quite good, though the editing isn’t quite as sharp as in Shimizu’s American re-make, The Grudge. A little tightening on the fright reveals would help increase the tension. Some of the special effects are a bit rubbish as well, though generally good overall.
While Ju-on: The Grudge 2 is nothing original, there are some genuinely creepy moments and it serves as a good entry in the seemingly endless Ju-on series.Colin Le Sueur