Ju-On Takashi Shimizu

Ju-OnTakashi Shimizu
Sam Raimi, director of the classic Evil Dead trilogy of horror (and Spider-man, too!), is rumoured to have touted Ju-On as "the scariest movie I have ever seen." His exaggeration is excusable since he is the producer of The Grudge, the current Hollywood remake starring Sarah Michelle Geller. Still, Ju-On is a creepy movie that belongs amongst the best of the new breed of Asian horror, like Kairo, The Eye, The Phone and Ringu (with which it has the most in common). The movie starts out as a classic haunted house yarn exploring the conventions of horror cinema. But writer/director Takashi Shimizu shakes things up when he plays with the sequencing of events, a technique popularised by Quentin Tarantino. When social worker Rika Nishina (Megumi Okina) checks up on a family, she discovers a distraught old woman, a child named Toshio inside a closet duct-taped closed and a curse that touches all around her. The family of ghosts and their house are the main characters in Ju-On, and the series of vignettes slowly reveal the mysteries behind them. There are some spine-tingling sounds, like the foreshadowing "meow" of doom, but it's the images of a staring blue-hued Toshio and the malformed creepy-crawly ghosts that have the most effect and stick with you well into the night. The DVD includes a few deleted scenes with commentary by the director, each cut because it slowed the movie at inappropriate times; too bad, since they are very revealing. Also unfortunate is the director's commentary that doesn't extend to the feature. Instead, avid fan Sam Raimi talks about what he learned from watching the film while Scott Spiegel, his Evil Dead 2 co-writer, fawns over Raimi's trilogy. It's weird, and it's worthwhile more so for fans of Sam Raimi than fans of Ju-On. The cast and crew interviews are pretty thin, but the "behind the scenes footage" demonstrates the process that went into some of the scenes and gets a little personal with some of the actresses. Lions Gate has created a great package for Ju-On, but the lack of commentary from Takashi Shimizu is nearly inexcusable. Let's hope he touches on his Japanese original during his director's commentary for The Grudge. Plus: theatrical trailer, trailer gallery. (Lions Gate)