Tag Archives: ju-on

Marebito – Review

11 May

Takashi Shimizu us not a name that should not be unknown since his achievement with the Japanese Ju-on series and his subsequent remakes with the American Grudge has earned him international success. Between the filming of his Japanese and American entries in the franchise, Shimuzu worked on a film that has received little to now recognition. That film is Marebito. This is a very different movie from Ju-on: The Grudge even though it seemed to have been marketed as a straightforward horror film.What Marebito actually is is a  twisted sort of technologic fairy tale that gets weirder and darker as the story progresses.

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Masuoka (Shinya Tsukamoto) is a freelance videographer who has recently become obsessed with capturing absolute fear. He soon becomes disappointed after he films a man committing suicide in a subway station, and since then no one has shown fear like that. In order to learn why this man was so scared, Masuoka returns to the subway station and finds that there are creatures called Deros that have been living there in a sort of mystical world with the subway station being the link between them. While exploring the area, Masuoka finds a woman chained to a cave whom he calls “F” (Tomomi Miyashita). Masuoka brings F home and observes her very carefully and learns that she has a less than sane way to feed. As Masuoka begins treating F like a beloved pet, he begins to hear warnings from mysterious beings and starts to question how much of what is happening to him is real and how much is just a twisted fantasy.

Marebito is a very strange movie, but definitely not something I was expecting. If you’re looking for a run of the mill ghost story, this isn’t really one of them and you might be disappointed. What this movie is is actually a pretty surreal ghost story that delves even deeper into the realm of psychological horror. There are ghosts and creatures in this movie, but they aren’t the main point of horror in this movie. The horror, itself, stems from the character of Masuoka and his obsessive desire to understand fear, which is creepy enough. But the means he works with to understand it and take care of F at the same time are more unsettling than any creature that is in this movie.

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I really did enjoy the more surrealistic things that happened in this movie. It was sort of a pleasant. It took some getting used to at first, but once I started figuring out what the movie was all about, I started to get into it a lot more. The way Takashi Shimizu uses technology in this is creepy in that sort of “found on Youtube” kind of way. There are a lot of unsettling images that are made even more creepy by the grainy look of the video that Masuoka is filming on. Shinya Tsukamoto and Tomomi Miyashita are both really good in this, equally playing off each other in one of the strangest onscreen connections I’ve seen.

While this was a good movie, there are faults to it that really  make me groan just thinking about it. First of all, I was buying all of the strangeness while Masuoka was exploring the depths of the subway. It was creepy and atmospheric, but then something happens that really made me questions just what the hell I was watching. Anyone who has seen this movie must know what I mean. The creepy atmosphere is completely abandoned for something that makes no sense at all. Also, I feel like the story would have worked better if this was a half hour short film. As a short film, Marebito would have been perfect. I could rewatch this movie and make significant notes on what could be cut or trimmed in order to make this an excellent short.

Marebito is a pretty cool horror film that deserves a bit more attention than it has actually gotten. Sure, this movie doesn’t reach the heights that Shimizu set with his other works in the Ju-on series, but this movie does raise a couple of good points and also achieves a creepy atmosphere that is maintained in most parts of the movie. Don’t go into Marebito expecting jump scares and spooky ghosts. Go into it expecting an unsettling examination of a man’s psychological breakdown. This is a good movie, but with some cuts and trims, it could have been an excellent short film.

Ju-On: The Grudge – Review

18 Sep

There was a point in time when it seemed like Hollywood was just going to start remaking Japanese horror films instead of thinking up their own stuff. One of the more popular examples is 2004 film The Grudge, which is actually based off of a 2002 film Ju-On: The Grudge. The Ju-On series consists of five other films other than this one, but this is the more popular one, and the only one I will be reviewing as of right now. Ju-On is a strange, startlingly slow, and occasionally boring example of J-Horror that may not really be everyone’s cup of tea.

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When a volunteer house keeper, Rika (Megumi Okina), begins work for an elderly woman in a house with a violent past, she never thought she would be stepping into a world full of horror and death. Other than Rika, a handful of other people have been inside the house, which condemns them to the vengeance of two spirits inhabiting the house that were brutally murdered. One by one, the people who have associated themselves with the house begin being stalked and tormented by these spirits before they are ultimately killed. No one who has been in the house can solve the mystery before it is too late.

The narrative of Ju-On: The Grudge is not like the American versions, despite both versions being directed by Takashi Shimizu. The Japanese version is strange, in that the story is told in episodic segments that are presented out of order. I didn’t expect this to happen at first, so I was completely lost for a little bit before I figured out that the order was completely messed up. Once I caught on, things began making sense and I started to have more fun with the film. This is actually a lot more difficult to piece together than a film like Pulp Fiction, because there are random jumps in time that are never explained and really forces the viewer to be paying attention to the timeline to keep with the pace.

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In terms of scare factor, well maybe I’m being a wuss here, but these movies have always freaked me out more than any other horror film. This is my first time seeing the Japanese version, but the American ones were not bad at all. Still, needing to sit through a movie with my two worst enemies (the two spirits) was fun. The sounds and movements of these ghosts are haunting, and made me not look forward to closing my eyes to go to sleep that night. I would be lying if I said I didn’t glance over at my stairs to check to see if there were any bloodshot eyes staring at me. The fact that these things just appear without any warning and mentally torment you until they kill you is way more than enough to make my skin crawl.

That being said, there is a whole lot of nothing that happens in this movie. The scenes of dialogue or plot and character development are really not that special at all. The characters are pretty dull and aren’t memorable at all. The parts of the movie that are most enjoyable are when the movie tries to scare us, and that seems to work 95% of the time. Unfortunately, this is a 93 minute long movie, and it can’t all be scares. There has to be something of a plot, but this one is confusing and just plain boring. That’s really a lot of points taken off of Ju-On to the point where the whole experience is pretty much ruined.

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Ju-On: The Grudge will bore many a people, that is a fact. A fact that has been strengthened with how bored I was during a large portion of the movie. I still can’t deny how freaky and nerve wracking this movie can be. If it only kept a consistent level of horror and dread throughout the whole thing, I would consider this one of my favorite horror films of all time. Unfortunately, it is bogged down by a confusing story and characters who really don’t mean a thing. This is an important film for the genre, but it really isn’t the awesome film that a lot of people say that it is.