Quick-Thoughts: Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-on The Curse 1 and 2 (2000)

Ju-on: The Curse

Really need to stop watching these types of movies after midnight. 

The main saving grace of Ju-on: The Curse — a straight-to-video J-horror that started a franchise crave better known by the title of “The Grudge” — lies within its charming yet moreover tantalizing and subsequently unnerving structure of vignettes. The warped chronology of six interrelated events is a resourceful reparation for the low-budget and simplistic construction of each sequence that renders them, and it secondarily italicizes the terror that each victim had to undergo while making the audience more and more hopelessly aware, as the time-irrelevant vignettes continue to stack, of this sheerly doomed nature that comes with anyone who runs into the curse. 

Though, not to completely disregard the individual sequences’ modesty, a decent quota of their choices had me strung for those very reasons: the straightforward grumbling noises, two “where’d the lights go?”s, the tape-audio lagging, a not-so-cutesy diary find, the telephone booth of deranged mutilation, a talk with spirit mommy, a jaw-dropping face reveal on the series’ iconic stairway, and perhaps one of the best “just lurking in the corner” shots I’ve ever seen. 

And WOAH; Chiaki Kuriyama???

Verdict: B-

Ju-on: The Curse 2

The concept of The Grudge is so petrifying just by its own rules: the idea that you’re screwed so long as you see someone with it, removing your entire chance of survival no matter what you do. It warranted the futile and therefore nightmarish sensibilities of the first movie. Ju-on: The Curse 2 is clearly trying to reapply that magic, but unfortunately not to a T. 

For one, it wipes the warped chronology that made the original so mysterious. There are still some creepy moments though regardless, from a gnarly shot that contrasts a black-and-white space against a colored one to when the mother character has a complete personality 180 — repeated actions also make me squirm; for the love of God please stop laughing and bowing! Yet, there are also some moments here that are clearly trying too hard to regurgitate the impactful send-off that the first Curse gave us, like its zombie-inspired climax. 

The ending of the original is already fitting enough because it implied to the audience that The Grudge will only continue, so the existence of this second Curse — to show such even further by bouncing right off of the ending’s event — is pretty much arbitrary, but you know, gotta have a sequel! Plus, this was apparently shot back-to-back with the original, so you also gotta use that mere forty-six minutes of extra footage to somehow make another feature-length for bank! 

Lastly, is the final scene intentionally supposed to be comedic? Perhaps even quirky? Cute.

Verdict: C

“Ju-on: The Curse” and “Ju-on: The Curse 2” are currently not available to stream on VOD.

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