15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
creepy in a way that redifines creepy,
This review is from: The Grudge [DVD] (DVD)
A good friend of mine believes that there are no such things as scary movies, that movies can only unsettle you at best, but not actively scare you. Well, having watched this particular slice of Japanese horror, I would say that this comes pretty damn close to being actually, genuinely scary.
Ju-On (to give it its Japanese title), is essentially a good old fashioned haunted house movie, but with an amazingly modern twist. Told via a series of interconnected chapters, linked to the house and concerning the effects of the haunted house on a series of women who come into contact with it, the film has a slightly nonlinear structure, which means to get the most out of it you really have to pay attention, but this investment in time pays of handsomely. The Grudge concerns the after effects of a brutal murder carried out in an apparently average house in an average suburb. A husband murders his wife and then kills himself, and as we later find out, the couples young son is never seen again, although it is never verified whether or not he is dead (just adds to the mystery). However, as explained at the beginning of the movie, when people die violently in the grip of great anger, a mark is left, something of that person's anger is left behind, and effects anyone who comes into contact with it. As a result of this, further occupants of the house were the murder took place become the unwitting victims of this curse.
The cast are uniformly good, although the real star of the film is Yuya Ozeki as Toshio, the little boy who now haunts the house (and indeed anyone who enters the house), turning in a performance that manages to be deeply creepy simply by using facial expressions and his physical presence, rather than going for any Hollywood style over the top nonsense. Director Takashi Shimizu handles the over all sense of dread and lurking evil with a deft touch that never reveals too much and never descends into violence for the sake of violence. Indeed, for a horror movie, there is very little in the way of bloodshed and gore, what we do see is implied rather than explicit, and the film works so much better as a result of this restraint.
Before you say anything, I know Shimizu went on to direct the Americanized remake of this masterpiece, although I can't imagine why he would want to remake this gem of a modern day horror. This is probably one of the most deeply unsettling films I have ever seen, and I mean that in a good way. Atmospheric, unsettling, and altogether brilliant.