The golden age of horror: Ju-on: the Grudge

Title The golden age of horror: Ju-on: the Grudge
Author Chris Hornbostel and Barac Wiley
Posted in Features
When October 7, 2014

Chris: Ghosts in western culture have always been a frightening but physically benign presence. They show up to simply scare, warn, or act as portents and omens. That's not how they work in Japan, though..

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"imagery is’t as potent" - isn't.

One thing that came to mind after it was too late to add to the discussion: I took an intercultural communication course in college and one of the ideas it introduced me to is that some cultures are high context and others low context (though it's not an absolute scale). High context cultures put a lot of the meaning of communication into contextual elements that tend to be shared by the culture rather than exposing them explicitly the way low context cultures do. The US is a pretty low context culture, whereas much of Asia is high context. So this goes some way to explain why Americans like Chris and I can tend to have issues parsing Asian films, and I think it's possible that's part of why Ju On can be so confusing for us. That said, it sounds like the movie's Japanese audience doesn't necessarily understand it all that well either.

That's what surprised me--seeing Japanese movie geeks arguing about some of the stuff that happens in the film. The high-context/low-context thing is really interesting, because I sensed that when I was doing some research and watching the original Ringu over the weekend. I also notice it a bit in at least one other film we're covering. In Ju-on, I think the disjointed "story" is all on the director.

The only thing that stuck with me in the movie is when the daughter and the father meet each other in a gate through time thingy. Their stories cross because they both meet at the house, even though his visit was years prior and he's already dead. He doesn't seem to be a ghost either. Not sure if I remember this right, but they don't really say much and the moment just goes by. No explanation is even suggested.

It's just the kind of "what the heck was that" event in horror that requires no gore or death, but that I find supremely effective

This movie remains my favorite Japanese horror movie (Pulse, probably being my next favorite). I must confess that much of my fondness comes from my first viewing. My brother and I driving across town to see it late at night at the only theater showing it. And then having to drive all the way back home, very late at night.
I strongly agree that the story barely even tries to make sense and I found that to be supremely effective, exactly in that nightmare logic sort of way. Particularly during my first viewing, I feel like my rational thought was distracted trying to make sense of the plot and characters, which made it easier for me to fall under the movie's spell. On the other hand, I do think that multiple viewings have helped me to make enough sense of it that I don't feel like it disregards plot entirely.

Yeah how did this movie make it to the list and Pulse didn't?

Pulse was one of my recommends, and was one of the last films to be cut. In the end, we felt like we were pretty heavy on Asian horror in this time period. I think it's a better movie than Ju-on, but I think Ju-on is a movie that deserves to be on the list for cultural impact. In the end, I think that's what carried the day among the QT3'ers voting on what to put on the final roster. (Actually, I think it came down to Pulse or Tale of Two Sisters, with the latter having going for it being Korean instead of Japanese for inclusion; I'm watching ToTS tonight, so I can't say whether it deserves to be there qualitatively yet.)

Well, I can't speak for everyone, but Ju On terrified me on first viewing and remains a movie that sticks with me effortlessly. I barely stayed awake through Pulse (that is, Kairo, the Japanese version) and although I found some of the imagery a bit interesting I felt like it was handled incompetently and unsuccessfully throughout. I am now finding there are apparently people who feel this way about Ju On, but I just can't agree. Plus, yes, Ju On was definitely more of a phenomenon.

I agree. I found Pulse to be extremely interesting and powerful, but definitely not scary (my same brother did actually fall asleep). Ju On absolutely deserves to be on this list and I'm not heartbroken that Pulse didn't make the cut.

I'm glad this was on the list, and I enjoyed the overall creepiness of it immensely. As I said on the forums, most of the real big scary moments (crab-walk lady, hand in shower) were spoiled by the trailers for the american remake back in 2004.
But even with a low budget for the FX, the ghosts really worked. And that sound....eeek. Creeped me out.

I also wanted to mention how awesome the opening sequence is, with the murders. It was shot completely differently than the rest of the movie, and had a really chilling feel to it.