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JU-ON: THE GRUDGE 2

SYNOPSIS:
Following an encounter with a mysterious ghostly child, "scream queen" actress Kyoko Harase (Noriko Sakai) is involved in a car accident which puts her boyfriend in a coma. Three months pregnant, she returns to work in a TV special where she will be interviewed in a "real life" haunted house. But while filming, she and those around her have further visions indicating that the house's "curse" has started operations once again.

Review by Jake Wilson:
Though I've seen just a handful of titles from the recent "boom" in Japanese (and Hong Kong) horror, I already feel I've had enough mysterious curses and malevolent ghostly children to last me a lifetime. Not that these conventions are unworkable in themselves, but in a dud like Takashi Shimizu's Ju-On: The Grudge 2 they're degraded into rituals as meaningless as any practised in Hollywood, with less redeeming energy and humour.

In theory it's a plus that Shimizu is more willing to embrace stillness, silence and ambiguity than a comparable Western hack would be. On the other hand, there's no sign that he gives two hoots about his characters or has anything whatever to say. The camera broods interminably on the wood panelling of dingy kitchens and corridors, till finally the electronic music ratchets up, we move in closer, and various blandly pretty young women (less frequently men) are threatened by murky figures from Beyond The Grave. None of this is very scary, least of all the digitally rendered chief ghost, a little boy with glowing blue skin who looks like he could have been designed to sell marshmellows.

The cheesy though not especially gory shock effects sit uneasily with the film's more artsy elements, including a wilfully confusing non-linear plot structure, presented deadpan with none of Brian de Palma's zest for the improbable. Rather, Shimizu seems to aim for an offhand yet ominous detachment, as though an approximate storyline had been pieced together from outtakes of earlier films plus footage from a security camera. If the basic story elements were more interesting, it's possible this quasi-surrealist approach might have worked, but it would take a more dedicated cultist than I to find poetry here.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

(M)
(Japan, 2003)

CAST: Noriko Sakai, Chiharu NÓyama, Kei Horie, Yui Ichikawa, Shingo Katsurayama

PRODUCER: Takashige Ichis

DIRECTOR: Takashi Shimizu

SCRIPT: Takashi Shimizu

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tokusho Kikumura

EDITOR: Nobuyuki Takahashi

MUSIC: Shiro Sato

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Toshiharu Tokiwa

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney: February 3, 2005; Melbourne: tba

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Madman

VIDEO RELEASE: May 4, 2005







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