body horror

[Movie Review] Ju-on: The Grudge 2 (2003) ★★★☆☆

Kayako reborn in Jo-on The Grudge 2 (2003)

Ju-on: The Grudge 2 gets more gruesome and confusing with new inventive scares and kills.


Ju-on: The Grudge 2 is the fourth installment of the Ju-on franchise. It has the same structure as its predecessors, with different segments that tell the story of each character that falls victim to Kayako’s curse. But this time Kayako is far more present and actively looking for revenge and even finds a way to live again. 

With a non-chronological order just like the previous films, it sometimes is a bit harder to follow when what takes place. It gets even more confusing when a school girl is haunted by Kayako getting trapped in some sort of time loop nightmare/vision kinda of situation. Many scary tricks have been done before, but still the film manages to create new scares, that walk a fine line between terrifying and cheesy. 


Plot

This time a film crew is about to make a documentary about the haunted house in Nerima. Kyoko a famous horror actress is asked to be the special guest. But after they have filmed inside the house, something terrible befalls Kyoko, but also the host Tomoka and her boyfriend, makeup girl Megumi, director Keisuke and a seemingly random school girl Chiharu. 

We follow each of them while they are haunted by Kayako in the most gruesome and new scary ways. 


Why you should watch it

Although the story itself doesn’t bring anything new, some scary scenes are very new and can be quite creepy. But after performing its scare tactics several times now, it can become a bit tedious, or even cheesy and unintentionally funny. Still the acting is good and the cinematography looks great, creating another installment that manages to scare and surprise. 

New to the scary bits are the mold stains from which Kayako or Toshio or even others who were killed, emerge in a creepy way, and Kayako’s hair. The last might have something to do with Ringu (1998) the very successful other Japanese franchise from that era in which Sadako’s hair plays an important creepy part in most horror scenes. Now Kayako is using her hair to kill and scare and to manifest herself with. This causes some frightening scenes that have a great buildup but the crawling hair might be too much and can therefore come across as unintentionally cheesy. 

The kills and the hauntings are getting more viscious and malicious and time certainly didn’t heal any wounds, in fact the curse seems to be getting stronger and more evil. That results in some nasty scenes. The way Tomoka and her boyfriend are killed is very surprising and creepy and original. The images on screen of Kyoko inside the house are creepy and Kayako manifests herself in more ways. She even finds a way to get reborn again which results in a very nasty birth. 

The segment of Chiharu is a bit strange and the most confusing one to place in time. We already met her in Juon The Grudge. She was a friend of Izumi and she and her friend wanted their teacher to find some class photos with Izumi in it, because there wasn’t any picture of her. We soon learn that she has visions/nightmares about the house, that she was locked up inside and Hiromi couldn’t get to her. It’s all a bit confusing for we don’t know what is real or not and if or when she was inside the house. We also have to assume that the stories of Rika and teenager Izumi play out at the same time the documentary is filmed. 

Ju-on: The Grudge 2 has some great new inventive scary scenes, original hauntings and kills, but it still can feel a bit more of the same. That’s because the story itself doesn’t evolve any further, there’s no more explanation about the curse itself, only those whose entered the house get cursed and die or go missing in more gruesome and mysterious ways. 


My favorite part

The segment of Tomoka and her boyfriend was the most scary and surprising one. The knocking on the wall, the way they were killed and the way the scares were buildup was well executed and brought something completely fresh to the story. It’s a whole self-contained story that works really well as a short film, all by itself. The structure, the buildup and the mystery behind the knocking is greatly done and for this segment alone you should watch the film. 

But still I have liked to know a bit more about the curse and more of the supernatural background, like Ringu did manage, to give more body and complexity to the story. Certainly the section with Chiharu was great but strange and could have turned the curse into something more of a weird fiction horror. Now it stays a bit at the surface, focusing on new scares instead of scaring with new creepy ideas. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Scare factor: ★★★★☆

Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆

Originality factor: ★★★☆☆


Read more about Ju-on:


Cast and crew

Ju-on: The Grudge 2 was directed and written by Takashi Shimizu. It stars Noriko Sakai (Kyoko), Shingo Katsurayama (Keisuke), Chiharu Niiyama (Tomoka), Emi Yamamoto (Megumi), Yui Ichikawa (Chiharu), Takako Fuji (Kayako) and Yuya Ozeki (Toshio).

Duration: 95 minutes. Music: Shiro Sato. Cinematography: Tokusho Kikumura. Edited by: Nobuyuki Takahashi. Produced by: Shin’ya Egawa, Takashige Ichise, Kunio Kawakami, Yoshinori Kumazawa, Haruhiko Matsushita, Hiroki Numata.


Check the trailer below