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Feature: The Grudge

Bearing The Grudge


Director Takashi Shimizu talks about Japan’s latest Horror hit and its Hollywood remake…

Few Horror fans would deny that a great deal of the genre’s most exciting material has, in recent years, come from Japan. Led by the success of Hideo Nakata’s Ring in 1998, movies as diverse as Audition (1999), Battle Royale (2000) and Nakata’s own Dark Water (2002) have gained considerable international success. Even lesser known cult titles such as Another Heaven (2000), Hypnosis (2002) and Versus (2000) offer up proof that the Land of the Rising Sun is more than capable of shocking and scaring a Western audience. However, Japan’s latest Horror hit, Ju-On: The Grudge is – like The Ring before it – one scary movie that looks set to repeat its Eastern success throughout the rest of the world.

The writer and director of Ju-On is Takashi Shimizu, who originally wrote and directed two low budget Ju-On movies (subtitled The Curse) in 2000 – aiming his efforts at the Japanese video market. Having seen the flicks build up a cult following, Shimizu and his producer Taka Ichise were convinced to make bigger budget versions of the films and what followed was box office gold. 2003 saw not only Ju-On: The Grudge hit cinemas in the Orient but also a superior sequel to the original, again directed by Shimizu and produced by Ichise, electrify audiences. Hollywood was obviously watching and a forthcoming American version of Ju-On, which retains the original director and producer, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Roswell’s Jason Behr and Bill Pullman.

Ju-On is told in sections and the unfamiliar narrative, not to mention the lack of a lead character, may throw many viewers a curveball – however, perseverance reveals a movie with several moments of hair-raising terror. A ghost story about the spirits that remain in a house when a family implodes with anger and brutality, the film traces a variety of characters as they encounter the vengeful ghosts of a small boy and his mother. From distorted faces on a television screen to wide-eyed ghouls scratching at closed doors, and even a homage to The Exorcist’s long missing ‘spider walk’ sequence, Ju-On is rarely short of a good scare. Speaking exclusively to Shivers through an interpreter, director Shimizu admits that the subtle terror of Ju-On, which features no graphic violence, is a personal preference. “I have seen a lot of splatter movies and I do like these kinds of films”, begins the director. “However, in Japanese culture stories of Horror come from psychologically scaring people rather than acts of physical violence and chopping people to pieces. So I wanted to make a psychologically terrifying story rather than to use explicit gore and blood to shock the audience.”

by Calum Waddell

Get the full interview in
Shivers #116

Photo © Columbia Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Shivers #116, see below for ordering options
Shivers #116
November - Bumper 2004
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