Today: Ju-on 3: The Beginning of the End (Ochiai, 2014)
Ju-on 3: The Beginning of the End begins with a social worker, a teacher and a police officer letting themselves into the Yamaga household to investigate the prolonged absence of the Yamaga’s child, Toshio, from school. They find the boy murdered and hidden in a closet.
From there, the movie branches out to tell two separate tales (cutting between each as the movie progresses), both centering around the house in which the murdered boy was found but occurring along entirely different time lines. In one, the house is up for sale and the teenage sister of the estate agent, hearing that the house might be haunted, takes her three friends there for sh*ts and giggles; needless to say, they get everything they bargained for and so much more besides. In the other - and echoing the opening scene - a newly-employed primary school teacher is concerned about the prolonged absence of Toshio Saeki, a pupil she hasn’t seen yet in her brief time at the school. Guess where Toshio lives.
I really liked this film. Yes, too many of the set-pieces have been done already many times over within this franchise, and that is something I wish they would address but, well, f*ck it: When they’re done well, the Ju-on/Grudge movies scare me. The purposefully mundane and well-lit settings; the premise that escaping the house won’t help, since the curse follows its victims out of the front door; the structure, which tells the numerous vignettes out of chronological sequence, keeping the audience off-balance; the way Toshio and his cat will appear in almost matter-of-fact fashion in the background; the double-jointed crab-like crawl of Kayako; that horrible croaking death-rattle; the franchise’s fondness for ripping the jaws off of schoolgirls… Ju-on 3: The Beginning of the End provides us with all of the tropes one expects from the franchise and, for the most part, it executes them well. Recommended.
Incidentally, the title - Ju-on 3 - is a little misleading, not least because it’s not even a sequel; it’s actually a reboot, shifting the origin of the curse to the murder of a young boy years before the doomed Saeki family even arrive at the house, and positioning Toshio instead of his mother Kayako as the chief antagonist. The 3 in the title probably alludes to the fact that it’s only the third feature-length (ie approx. 90mins) entry in the franchise after Ju-on: The Grudge (Shimizu, 2002) and Ju-on: The Grudge 2 (Shimizu, 2003), but this is a distinction which ignores (slightly) shorter entries Ju-on: The Curse (Shimizu, 2000) and Ju-on: The Curse 2 (Shimizu, 2000) to which Ju-on: The Grudge is a true sequel. It also ignores the twin 2009 features Ju-on: Black Ghost (Asato) and Ju-on: White Ghost (Miyake) and, if we’re being pedantic, it also ignores the two genuine short-form films which began the franchise in the first place, Katasumi and 4444444444 (both Shimizu, 1998). So Ju-on 3 is in fact the ninth entry in the franchise.