body horror

[Netflix Review] Ju-on: Origins Season 1 (2020) ★★★☆☆

flashback vengeful spirit behind window in Ju-on: Origins season 1

Ju-on: Origins is gruesomely violently dark and relentless. 


Ju-on: Origins is a supernatural horror Netflix Original series that is the latest installment of the Ju-on franchise. While all the other films evolve around the origin story of the curse and hauntings of the murdered Kayako and her six-year-old son Toshio which started off with the film Ju-on: The Curse in 2000, this film doesn’t feature Kayako nor Toshio. It all goes back to when the curse first started and that means both Kayako and Toshio were a part of it, much later. 

In line with the other films, the series is also told in a non-chronological order and by means of different segments, although these tend to mix instead of told separately. But instead of creating an elusive and creepy atmosphere, this time the series is filled with gore and a lot of gruesome acts of violence that will be hard to watch and digest. But bear in mind that this curse can only originate from such awful acts. 

This first season consists of 6 episodes with each a duration of 26-31 minutes. It’s told in non-chronological order, following different characters who fall victim to the curse in three different time periods. It is highly recommended to watch the series with its original Japanese audio and with subtitles in your own language if possible. 


Plot

The story begins in 1988. Main character is paranormal investigator Yasuo Odajima. He is writing a book on paranormal phenomena and when he hears the spooky story of Haruka Honjo who is featuring on the same tv show, he wants to know more. Her boyfriend Tetsuya Fukazawa was looking for a house for them to live in before he asks her to marry him. But after he visited the house in Nerima, strange things occurred. Haruka heard strange footsteps and Tetsuya soon after dies, but without telling Yasuo the location of the house. 

Meanwhile Kiyomi a high school girl has moved with her mother and goes to a new school. Two girls invite her to visit a strange house, but they also invite a boy named Yudai. After an awful and violent terrible act something is not right with Kiyomi. 

Then we skip to 1994 and 1995 where a mother is visited by a social worker Ms Ariyasu, but she only finds a six-year-old boy Toshiki in a very malnourished state and he is taken to the hospital. 

Yasuo has written his fourth book on the paranormal but is still looking for the notorious house. With the help of Haruka,  Tetsuya’s mother who’s a medium and Ms Ariyasu they dig deep into the origins of the cursed house that leads them back to 43 years ago. 


Why you should watch it

If you enjoyed the franchise of Ju-on, then this will not immediately appeal to you. Although the structure has stayed the same and it’s all about the mystery of the house, there are very important elements lacking that made the original franchise a very elusive and spooky one.  And it’s much much darker. 

The different characters that play a major part and are victims of the curse are not divided into different separate segments, but are much more mixed throughout the six episodes. Eventually they all come together and fall into place like a puzzle, but it requires some paying attention. While the different segments are absent, not every character is properly introduced. Sometimes it takes a while to get a name, sometimes they change their names and appearances and after 7 years some look very different. That makes it sometimes hard to follow. 

While the different stories of each character is told in a very fragmentary way, it also can be a bit confusing, what exactly is happening. We mostly see violent acts, but not a required amount of development before and after the act to relate to the characters, to understand them, or to understand the curse of the house for that matter. Thats makes it all the more gruesome and horrible, showing the darkest side of humanity. 

Although at the end more is revealed about the origin of the curse, if that really is the real origin, we are none the wiser of the lore of the curse itself. 

The whole tone and atmosphere of the series is quite different from the films. Although occasionally violent acts were shown in a gruesome way, to show the impact of the curse and where it came from, the films were all about creating a very disturbing and scary atmosphere. Original scares, filmed in a creative way, is what made the films iconic. Now the series is stripped from this elusive style and surrealistic way of filming and bending time in the house. Although this surrealism and time bending does occur in the final episodes and for a short while it reminds of the films. But the overall feel of the film is violent and gruesome. There are some very nasty horrible scenes, that are hard to watch. It does remind of the scene when Takeo called Kobaysahi in Ju-on: The Curse (2000) and with the baby in his arms, but this goes much further. 

The series aims at shocks and violent acts instead of a creepy atmosphere. It’s about abuse, and rape and murder. And even a serial killer who kills kids, which doesn’t connect to the house in a significant way, but only functional and to add more shocking scenes. 

Ju-on: Origins feels more incoherent than the previous films, it’s more confusing despite of the main character who is the anchor to the story. You didn’t have to watch the whole franchise to watch the series, but if you liked the franchise, then this could be a bit disappointing. It’s more of the same, adds nothing new, not even the so-called origin event sheds some light on the curse itself. It’s more victims killed in more gruesome horrible ways without adding something new and fresh to the story. Not story wise nor in cinematography or characters.

Still it is a full-on horror series that is pieced together in the end to make up a very gruesome tale for those who can stomach it. 


My favorite part

The fifth episode finally came close to the atmosphere and weird time bending of the films. What I loved about Ju-on were the original scares and small mysteries that changed time itself creating a very weird vibe. But this is completely lacking throughout the series. Except for the fifth episode. This is the horror what I was expecting, but it was too little too late. Instead of expanding the lore of the curse, it brought us more of the same and aimed at shocking scenes, instead of scaring the hell out of you. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Gore factor: ★★★★★

Scare factor: ★★☆☆☆

Gruesome factor: ★★★★★


Rea more about Ju-on:


Cast and crew

Ju-on: Origins is based on Ju-on by Takashi Shimizu. The series is written by Hiroshi Takahashi and Takashige Ichise and directed by Sho Miyake. It stars Yoshiyoshi Arakawa, Yuina Kuroshima, Ririka, Koki Osamura, Seiko Iwaido, Kai Inowaki, Ryushin Tei, Yuya Matsuura, Tokio Emoto, Nobuko Sendo and Kana Kurashina.

Original network: Netflix. 


Check the trailer below


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