Ju-On 2 (DVD)
Directed by Takashi Shimizu
Distributed by Lionsgate
Japanese horror is all the rage these days. Everywhere we turn there's a new American version of a cult classic in the works, sometimes with a dumbed down cast and message. Pulse anyone? I haven't seen the remake of this film as of yet, so it's impossible for any comparisons to be drawn at this time though, admittedly, this critic is a little jaded when it comes to remakes. One tends to give more slack to the original as far as actors and theme, but Ju-On 2 may have just changed all that.
Ju-On 2 kicks things off with a bang and vaginal bleeding. Not a bad start in the least but the fun soon ends.
The plot of the film is a bit of a mess. Kyôko Suzuki (Yuuko Daike) is our heroine. This poor baby has recently been involved in an auto accident that caused the miscarriage of her baby … or did it? The doctors assure her that she does have a child inside her, but something just isn't right.
OK, that part is nailed down, no trouble. We can handle ghost babies, dead babies, and even Cousin It's crotch chasing some young girl, but connecting all the other subplots and characters together gets a little annoying. Yuuko Daike plays so many roles aside from Kyôko (in fact much of the cast draw double duty) that if you get up to grab a drink, it's easy to forget who is who unless you're paying attention to their clothing.
The pacing stutters a bit after the original film ends, but things do pick up nicely. The frights and jumps, while still somewhat macabre, just don't pack as much of a punch as having little ghost Toshio (Ryôta Koyama) popping up between your legs for a little chilling mayhem. The croaking Kayako is back in all her twisted glory but never gets to be nightmarish enough until the end of the film when she kills off an entire surgery staff while crawling out of a certain body part that certainly wasn't made for anyone her size. Maybe Japanese women have super stretchy vaginas?
Another thing that is troublesome is the fact that no one ever seems to grow any balls during this movie. Never once does a male or female victim of the curse decide to fight back against the long-haired, froggy bitch or the little pale butterball. Kick one of them! Where are the throwing stars and katanas? Where are the ninjas when my American ignorance needs them?! All the bitching aside, Ju-On 2 still makes for a good ghost story if you are restrained enough to wait for the scary bits to rise, drop, or grow. Don't expect to walk away with the same eerie feeling some other entries in the ghost story sub-genre may have left you with.
How about some extras? Nope, not a damn thing, except for a boatload of trailers for other Asian films. What troubles me most about this is that I've seen other DVD editions of this very same film, and they at least have a making-of featurette. C'mon Lionsgate! Send a little supplemental love our way, why dontcha?
Well, when the American version of The Grudge 2 comes out, there will probably be another dip into the DVD pool, so maybe then we'll be seeing a meatier release.
Then again, who knows? Maybe the US remake will outshine the original since the stories are totally different this time around. What the fuck did I just say?!
3 out of 5