31 Days of Horror: Ju-on/The Grudge Double Feature

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Japanese filmmakers began to turn their sights on yūrei, or ghosts. Japanese folklore seems to have a long-standing love affair with yūrei, creating a multitude of classifications for various forms. Of all the multitude of yūrei, onryō are the most commonly told and easily the most terrifying of the bunch.

Onryō are vengeful spirits that were often killed in a violent and dishonorable manner, and return from purgatory to right the wrongs done to them. As onryō are so blindly enraged by their deaths, they don’t necessarily seek out the wrongdoer, but just about anybody and everybody around. The spirits have an insatiable rage that cannot be stopped and could appear just about anywhere, making this tale a particularly frightening story.

This is where writer Takashi Shimizu found both his fear and his inspiration.


Ju-on — The movie plays on the fear of onryō by telling the story of a mother and son brutally murdered by their husband/father when he learns of his wife’s affair and that his son may not be his. The story starts off with the home’s new residents being tormented, possessed, and quickly murdered after moving into the home. Soon after, the onryō seems to become blood thirsty and begins to repeat the cycle to anyone that simply enters the home — eventually killing off multiple families.

  • Creepy right down to its very core. The story is an interesting one, and works its way into your psyche quite well; particularly with its use of minimalism.
  • Towards the middle of the film, they begin to tell you the story of others who have simply ventured into the house and have become cursed. But with a sliding timeline, it’s easy to get confused and lost to who and why these people have become a target.

The Grudge The American remake is one of the best ones ever [re]made — second fiddle only to The Ring, of course. The story stays pretty true to the original, only slimming it down and making it more “accessible” for its western audience.

Since both the original and the remake are made up of small, intertwining stories, it can get a little confusing trying to explain; bare with me. An American family moves to Tokyo with their mother who suffers from dementia. Another American living in Tokyo comes to take care of the American family’s mom after the original caregiver had gone missing. Soon the American caregiver grows concerned when the family’s [also American] sister leaves a message on their answering machine stating that she’s worried she hasn’t heard from them in a few days. When the crap completely hits the fan, the American caretaker starts to investigate and finds out that the onryō that’s killing everyone and haunting her was killed because of her obsession with her American professor. Ultimately leading to the underlying story that American’s are evil.

  • Less congruent than Ju-on, it definitely has the feeling of being dumbed down for westerners.
  • For a country that isn’t very open to foreigners, there’s a lot living there; leaving it feeling forced and strange throughout. Could have benefited more from utilizing more native actors and more from its original script.
  • All-in-all, it’s still pretty entertaining. The story may not be as compelling as its predecessor and its ending isn’t very good (especially in comparison), but it’s not bad for an American remake.


Ju-on —

  • Once you get over how awful the grey body paint is, it’s actually pretty terrifying.
  • No where is safe, not even the blanket sanctuary.

The Grudge

  • The remake pretty much just copies all of the original scares and makes them more frightening, well, and the cheesy scares more cheesy. Either way, it levels out and isn’t one I’m ever comfortable watching with the lights off.
  • No where is safe, not even the blanket sanctuary.


Although neither film is not without fault, they’re both an enjoyable mix of creepy and engaging. Hands down these are two of my favorite horror movies, and even though they’re beginning to look dated, they’re still pretty chilling.



The Grudge:


(Ju-on is available on Netflix Instant Queue)

Bonus Trivia:

In 2009, XSeed made a ‘haunted house simulator’ for the Nintendo Wii. The game? You guessed it, Ju-on: The Grudge.


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6 Comments on “31 Days of Horror: Ju-on/The Grudge Double Feature”

  1. ris11
    10/17/2013 at 7:30 AM #

    Big fan of the original Ringu films and certainly Ju-on. I rarely watch horror films but Japanese horror movies are so moody and tone based that the sheer fright is entirely built up in the mind.

    I remember after I watched the first Ringu I was in my house alone. I walked past my tv which was just sitting on a blue screen. As I walked through the room it flashed a couple times to snow and I succinctly lost my mind for the next several hours.

    Similarly, I should not have read this at 2am while getting ready for bed because now I’m haunted by images from Ju-on and I can’t unhear her clicking groan.

  2. Jen
    10/17/2013 at 9:12 AM #

    Ha! I had a pretty similar reaction to both films. Ringu plays the video on the DVD menu, and I remember falling asleep during a rewatch and woke up to the fizzing TV/hair combing. Needless to say, I lost it.

    However, Ju-on/The Grudge really got under my skin. I mean, they took safety blankets away from us! You can’t do that, Ju-on! You have no right! That’s my sanctuary!

  3. 02/19/2015 at 5:07 PM #

    Reblogged this on Rice Cake.


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