Japanese horror director Takashi Shimizu really hasn’t done all that much. He made a direct-to-video film called Ju-on in 2000, and then made a sequel to that. Then he made a feature film, called Tomie: Re-birth. After that, he went back to Ju-on and made two feature films based on it. The premise of Ju-on: The Grudge is that if a person is murdered in a violent fashion, their spirit will remain and take it out on others – who then in turn add to the cycle. Basically, a ghost story, Ju-on: The Grudge was released in Japan last year, and is getting a limited release in the USA before the American remake comes out this fall. (The remake is, incidentally, directed by….. Takashi Shimizu.)
The film sets the tone early on, with long silences and a few creepy scares; the use of sound is what certainly helps this film get you in the mood. The non-linearity of the scenes (lots of jumping back and forth in time, including a rather large leap forward towards the end) makes it confusing – adding to that, the actresses almost all look alike.
It’s not the best horror movie out there, but Ju-on: The Grudge certainly provided Shimizu with a canvas to try his material on – and I’ve heard that the ensuing sequel Ju-on: The Grudge 2 was more intense. I’ll hopefully be able to see that one before the American release. Meanwhile, to get a sense of what he might be doing this fall, check out the “original” when it comes out this summer in limited form.