Writer-director Takashi Shimizu's short, spare, achronological ghost story was intended as a low-budget, direct-to-video throwaway but instead spawned a cottage industry, including Shimizu's own English-language remake. THE GRUDGE (2004). Divided into five sections named for one of the characters whose paths intersect in a deceptively sunny, modern house in a quiet Tokyo suburb, it uses interlocking stories to explore the ever-expanding repercussions of a "ju-on" a curse spawned by violent death and passed from person to person. It begins with "Toshio." Schoolteacher Kobayashi (Yyrei Yanagi) visits the home of 6-year-old student Toshio Taeki (Ryota Koyama), who hasn't attended class recently. The house is in shambles, Toshio is bruised and dazed, and his parents, Kayoko (Takako Fuji) and Takeo (Takashi Matsuyama), are absent. In "Yuki," high-school senior Kanna Murakami (Asumi Miwa), who now lives in the Taeki house with her parents and brother, Tsuyoshi (Kazushi Ando), is being tutored by Yuki (Hitomi Miwa). Kanna remembers she has to meet a friend at school to feed the class rabbits. Mrs. Murakami (Yumi Yoshiyuki) goes shopping and Tsuyoshi takes off, perhaps to meet his new girlfriend. Left alone, Yuki is tormented by creepy sounds and finally investigates the closed sleeping niche that opens into the attic. "Kanna" begins as a veteran police detective (Denden) grills the coroner (Shiro Namiki) about a mangled corpse found near Kanna's school, its dismembered parts mixed with rabbit fur, flesh and bones. More disturbing still is the extra human jaw in the mess. As the detective plans to visit Kanna to see what she knows about her classmate, Kanna's mother takes a phone call and wonders why no one is home yet. "Kayoko" returns to Kobayashi, who discovers Kayoko's journal, an obsessive record of her erotic fixation on Kobayashi, which started when they attended the same college. Kobayashi also met his wife, Manami (Yuue), now hugely pregnant, there. Kobayashi then finds something in the attic that makes him realize his family is in danger from the bloody madness he inadvertently triggered. Finally, in "Kyoko," a realtor (Makoto Ashikawa) asks his psychic sister (Yuuko Daiki) to visit a house he's trying to sell. Kyoko warns that he must be very careful about buyers; no one sensitive to spirits will be able to stay there safely. Sometime later, he calls to say that he's unloaded the property, but his son is acting strangely... Shimizu generates a sense of palpable dread in each segment, expertly manipulating tried-and-true scare tactics supplemented by a truly inspired use of spooky sound effects.
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- Released: 2000
- Rating: NR
- Review: Writer-director Takashi Shimizu's short, spare, achronological ghost story was intended as a low-budget, direct-to-video throwaway but instead spawned a cottage industry, including Shimizu's own English-language remake. THE GRUDGE (2004). Divided into five… (more)