Ju see that?
Yes, you probably have seen the cobbled-together horror-film chestnuts of "Ju-on: The Grudge" many times before.
By JOSHUA TANZER
I'm sure I've seen "Ju-on" before, but the year was 1972, the hour was midnight, it was introduced by Vincent Price with a sinister cackle and the people weren't all speaking Japanese.
This is classic low-budget midnight-movie horror with beiged-out color, unseen demons, creepy music, bodies back from the dead, hapless victims stumbling right into death's lair. Halls are walked and stairs are climbed, step by reluctant step. Mysterious noises are heard and fatefully checked out. Face-down bodies are turned face-up. Scene after scene ends in a "Don't open that door!" moment. Sure, these things gave me nightmares when I was 8.
|JU-ON: THE GRUDGE|
|Written and directed by: Shimizu Takashi.|
Cast: Okina Megumi, Ito Misaki, Uehara Misa, Ichikawa Yui, Tsuda Kanji, Shibata Kayoko, Kukuri Yukako, Matsuda Shuri, Tanaka Yoji, Matsuyama Takashi, Ozeki Yuya, Fuji Takako, Ishikura Chikara, Isomura Chikako, Honda Daisuke, Inoue Hirokazu, Kobayashi Tomomi, Fujii Aki, Odagiri Risa, Saito Akira.
Choreography by: Kikumura Tokusho.
Edited by: Takahashi Nobuyuki.
In Japanese with English subtitles.
Related links: Official site
|Angelika Film Center
18 West Houston at Mercer St.|
Our guide into this world of pain is Rika, a young trainee in the municipal social service agency sent to make a home visit to an unresponsive client. Arriving, she finds the woman, an elderly grandma, lying mute and expressionless in the midst of a household disaster area. Worse, something seems to be amiss up on the second floor, launching our first stair-climbing, hall-creeping, door-opening misadventure. A bedroom closet is taped up tight but wait, something seems to be moving in there. IT'S A PALLID DEAD BABY!!! No, it's just a cat. NO, IT'S A CRAZED TALKING DOLL!!! No, really, it's a cat. NO, IT'S
Well, we're not meant to know what it is just yet. Poor Rika is only the first of the unfortunates to be fed to the evil death house. In fact, the victims come checking in but not checking out with conveyor-belt regularity. In a series of vignettes cleverly scrambled in time, each one meets some new kind of supernatural end. It works for as long as we still believe the film is building up to something, but the schtick eventually wears thin.
So what do we do when the haunted house ceases to amuse us? We just pick up and leave.
Whom to kill next? How about schoolgirls? Want schoolgirls? We got schoolgirls. Cute ones. Prim ones. Sexy ones. In uniforms. Being slashed up by shadowy blobs of evil. Screaming terrified screams. Good one. Never seen that before.
In fact, filmmaker Shimizu Takashi dredges up pretty much every hackneyed idea in the book, cobbles a minimally dramatic scene out of it, and slaps it up on the screen whether it belongs to this movie or some other one. At the end, we get a little mini-revelation that ties a few but not all of these scattered threads together. But big deal. What began with a certain amount of intrigue the mute grandma in the now-trashed, now-spotless living room was a good start has long since turned into a waste of time.
|JULY 24, 2004|
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