Uncut - 08/01/2004
"JU-ON: THE GRUDGE hits all the right horror buttons....The palette of cold blues and white is particularly effective."
Among the scariest movies ever put on celluloid, like its similarly styled sister, RINGU, this tale of death-by-curse is nothing short of blood chilling. With chapters named after each subsequent victim, it plays like a series of increasingly daunting, deadly vignettes. All of the stories surround a haunted house where the evil spirit of a 5-year-old boy still lurks. The first to enter the residence and be cursed is a young hospice worker visiting an elderly client. She finds the boy duct-taped in a closet, where he first appears to her in the form of a black cat, and then shows his human form which is a shockingly ghoulish white face and blackened eyes. Invisible to all except for those who are next to die, his presence seems like a true mystery. But when family members, friends, curious teenagers, and frightened police investigators begin to drop like flies, it is clear that his spirit thrives. Perhaps it is the unsolvable problem of the boy's vengeance that makes the premise so terrifying--his anger and his penalty cannot be curbed. But unforgettable scenes, such as the boy's very dead mother crawling serpentinely down the stairway, deserve the lion's share of the credit for the fearfulness of the film. What's more, the percussive, electronic score by Shiro Sato is spine-tingling. From Japanese director Takeshi Shimizu, whose RINGU was so successful that it received both prequels and sequels--and an American remake, THE RING, with Naomi Watts--fans should not miss this extraordinary fright-fest.