Articles, Film Reviews

Ju-on (2002)

The horror genre is a tough nut to crack. There’s a tightrope to be walked between scary as heck and just plain silly. Ju-on begins as the former but quickly becomes the latter, in the haunted house tale known to most as the inspiration for 2004’s The Grudge.

Due to its non-linear narrative, the scares of Ju-on begin right away. This felt refreshing to me because all too often do horror films have an opening that merely teases the sort of terrors to come. It, however, got to the point and remained in heightened situations of horror for most of the first act. But my interest only held on for so long as questions began to build up in my mind. Because of this, I was soon taken out of the film and wondering what I should eat for lunch.

Ju-on follows a number of different characters that come in contact with a haunted house over the course of several years. Like most haunted places, the house took on its ghostly aura after a disturbing murder many years earlier. Because of this, a vengeful spirit aggravates those who enter the house and annoys those who watch this film… or is that just me?

The film relies too much on its soundtrack to provide the heebie-jeebies, resulting in a negative impact to the film as a whole. From excessive cat meows to elongated throat croaking, there wasn’t any redeeming factor in terms of the film’s sound design. In the defense of the film, these sounds are contextually linked to the storyline. However, it’s not like you hear Chewbacca yelling non-stop in every scene he is in.

At one intense moment, I muted the film to see if the visuals could survive on their own merit and while I thought it was less irksome, I was still not impressed. The film’s flaws soon removed all notion of a scary as heck experience. The episodic structure was also inappropriate and occasionally confusing.

The film is very one note. Because there is little breathing room, it is difficult for the film to recuperate after its displays of over-the-top mayhem. Perhaps the most tolerable part of the film was its final ten minutes when the chronology of events became clear. But alas, nine percent of satisfactory material is no way near a passing grade. Meow.


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