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By Eric Campos | July 24, 2004

As in “The Ring,” another dead kid is on the loose, but this time he’s a lot cuter even if he is scary as hell, and he’s brought company. The “grudge” in question here is a curse born of one family’s inner-conflict and the murderous deeds that brought their lives to an end. This hateful curse now resides in the family’s unhappy home, often manifesting itself in the form of a little boy whose painted up to look like an uber-goth. Some may mistake him as a Fruits fashion victim, but those in the supernatural know realize that they’ve just seen a ghost and he’s none too friendly. Anyone who comes in contact with the curse, no matter how slight, is haunted by the boy and his curse of horrific images until the cursed becomes a brain dead zombie…or something like that.

We don’t really get to know much about the characters in “Ju-On” as the film is broken up into vignettes, each character getting their own chunk of time and that time is focused on revealing the spooky details of how they became acquainted with the curse. This general lack of basic storyline is engineered for maximum scares as the film plays out kinda like a greatest hits collection from a haunted house. The film succeeds in that respect to a certain point, but the lack of character development can cause quite a bit of confusion that’s bound to distract rather than pull the viewer into its web. Add that to the fact that these vignettes are not placed in a linear order and there’s apt to be more head scratching amongst viewers than nervous nail biting. Knowing this ahead of time, it’s best to just enjoy the spooky images and events. You don’t try to find meaning or depth in the spook house at your local county fair and this movie should be treated pretty much the same, especially since it doesn’t have very much in the way of payoff at the end. It’ll be interesting to see how all of this is handled in the U.S. remake.

So, basically, what you have in “Ju-On” is a collection of effectively scary sights and sounds – sound effects play a huge part in rolling that chill down your spine – and that’s about it. For a fan of horror, that should be enough to qualify for a good time. Just don’t expect an epic saga or anything.

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