I love horror films. I don’t usually find them especially scary, though. They give me thrills and occasionally chills, but there are very very few that have caused me sleepless nights and outright terror. I’m not trying to boast, I’m not saying I can watch any horror film and then walk alone in a haunted graveyard under a full moon. I’m just saying that I like horror films.
Ju-on: The Grudge, though … damn. Just damn.
I didn’t like the remake, I found it a bit dull – which is weird, because they were both directed by the same man and many of the set-pieces were reused. I should probably give it another chance, but to be honest, I’m too scared to in case it terrifies me now I’ve seen the original.
The original Japanese Grudge is actually the third in the series, but was the first to receive a theatrical release. I haven’t seen the first two, and frankly having seen this one I’m happy to continue giving them a wide berth. It’s scarier than any of the Ring films ever were.
The premise of the film is that when an especially brutal act of murder takes place, the spirit of the victim is tied to the crime scene and enacts horrible vengeance on anyone who dares enter. The spirit seems to manifest as a wide-eyed pale ghost that terrifies you with a gutteral throaty cry. It’s creepy as all hell.
I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much of the actual plot of the film. I watched most of it through my hands (which, if you’ve seen the film, is a bad idea in and of itself) with Lizzy. I’ve actually blocked most of it from my memory, and I’m all the better for it. If I recall correctly, we watched The Exorcist on the same night and it might as well have been Young Frankenstein for all the chills it gave us.
I just gave myself the willies trying to find a clip of the creepiest scene (you’ll never feel alone in bed again). The thing that I remember being most creeped out by was the lack of jump scares – at least I can’t remember any. Again, mental block. The horror of the film was more in the build-up of atmosphere and the slow-boiling tension that builds and builds as the film goes on. Your heart pounds and you’re paralysed as the horror mounts. It’s a triumph of mood over gore and tacky jump scares.
I remember working at the hostel for the homeless and patrolling at 4am. I’d do the rounds of all the corridors, listening for disturbances and keeping a nose out for weed. Lizzy would sit in reception watching the cameras. As soon as she saw me on the camera that indicated I was approaching the locked kitchens (all of which have glass windows in the doors, the kind of windows that faces peer in at, as Withnail put it) she would reach for her walkie-talkie. There are few things more unnerving than hearing the grudge noise coming out of your walkie talkie while you’re patrolling the creepiest part of a haunted building.