I used to be a horror movie fan. I have such fond memories of my teenage days, where my friends and I would gather at someone’s house after school to watch a dumb horror flick to have a good laugh – and scream. Naturally, as I grew older, I started to gravitate towards other kinds of films – Oscar winning films, European dramas etc. The frequency of watching horror films dropped, although I would occasionally still write about them on this blog – very positively for some, in fact.
So, I was feeling depressed recently, which I know sounds like a weird justification to watch a horror flick. Ever since I stopped taking my antidepressants, I have been resorting to my own “methods” to stop feeling blue, and for me a stupid horror film and chocolate will always do the trick. My friend thought I was insane (“Go watch The Conjuring 2 instead wtf”) but I didn’t want a truly scary horror film – I needed a stupid one to laugh at. And when I saw the video below, I knew it was what I needed.
I mean come one!!! This was so ridiculously hilarious. The trailer for the actual film itself isn’t very promising either, and no, it is not scary.
My thought on this film are going to be incredibly brief but I thought I would write a little about my own experiences with Ringu and Ju-on. I am mainly going to refer to the Japanese versions, because the american remakes of The Grudge are damn awful movies. The Ring remake is actually pretty decent, although I prefer Ringu by miles.
Ringu is the movie that essentially made the “long-haired female ghost” a well-known horror icon in cinema. To me, the film rightfully earned its cult status as one of the greatest “urban legend” horror movies ever. One would be surprised at how different it actually is from typical horror films. It does not rely on jump scares or an overbearing track to shock its viewers, choosing to utilise atmosphere to instill dread and paranoia instead.
The movie’s main villain is Sadako Yamamura (“Samara” in the US remake), a mysterious entity who kills the viewers of her “cursed tape” within 7 days. While most horror films nowadays are quick to throw in appearances of their ghouls in every possible scene, and in the form of every possible jump scare (even from your freaking photographs), the appearances of Sadako in Ringu are kept to a minimum. In fact, unlike most horror films, the backstory of Sadako isn’t even completely fleshed out (they do explain it in the other films, but I am not focusing on those). To me, this really helps in establishing Sadako as a frightening and evil entity whom nobody knows how to deal with. We know that she is capable of “projecting images” into people’s minds and killing them with her own, but other than the fact that she seems to be a child-demon of sorts, very little is known about her. The creepy hallucinations of the cursed victims (presumably Sadako’s projections), the distorted photographs, the “hand imprints”, combined with the grim and depressing atmosphere of Ringu, gives viewers the feeling that Sadako is always present and watching. Despite having less than I daresay 5 appearances throughout the whole movie, the build-up to Sadako’s iconic moment in the film’s climax is very effectively done.
Ringu doesn’t even attempt to explain everything – and yet it works. To me, it is the best urban legend horror film around, because it is so subtly effective in its scares, allowing the viewers to believe that such an urban legend is real without explaining everything.
Of course, Ringu would be butchered in later years with the recent spate of Sadako 3D films which are just plain stupid. From a mysterious entity who barely needs to be present to scare her viewers, Sadako has transformed into a laughable ghoul who pops out in the stupidest places and uses her hair to grab her victims into the TVs because WHY NOT. Urgh. Way to go, Japan.
I was actually surprised to learn on Wikipedia that there are already 11 films in the Ju-on franchise, although White Ghost and Black Ghost was actually released as one film.
I actually watched #1, #3, #4, #5, #6, #10 and #12 aka more than I probably should. I never “got” the appeal of this franchise, or at least the claims that the films are some of the scariest horror movies ever made. The American remakes are downright jokes, and I felt like Takashi Shimizu really sold-out and cheapened the whole franchise through awful CGI and jump scares.
Even so, I have always thought Ju-on to be more bizarre and weird than scary. I mean, I agree that Kayako is a pretty frightening looking ghost, but when you look at some of the things she is capable of doing – using her hair to hang people, using her hair to strangle people, using her hair to move around – it actually becomes quite funny. The croaking noise she makes, combined with the meowing of Toshio also becomes old after a while. While Sadako barely has to appear to make herself known, Kayako feels like the annoying classmate who is trying way too hard to prove herself.
I also never really appreciated the non-linear structure of the Ju-on films either. It was more jarring than anything for me to follow the way the storyline, or lack of, develops through the perspectives of Kayako’s different victims. That being said, I shall admit that I actually enjoyed #1, #3 and #4 quite a bit, especially #4. I could tell that they never took themselves too seriously and I have always enjoyed the “weirdness” of these films – and of Japanese horror movies in general. I mean, who can forget that scene of Kayako emerging from a freaking WIG. These movies actually do become rather creepy because of their weirdness and cheesiness, something which is missing in the American remakes that took themselves too seriously in tone.
And this brings me to…
Sadako vs Kayako
Damn, this was stupid. The acting was horrible, and the characters made little sense, especially the professor who wanted to watch the tape just to see Sadako LOL.
But at the same time, the film never takes itself seriously. It knows its premise is silly, and it serves its purpose in paying tribute to these 2 horror icons. Of course, this is still a butchered version of Sadako, but it doesn’t sink to the depths of the Sadako 3D films. It also has that typical Japanese humour that I always enjoy, from the priestess who slaps everyone who offends her, to the eccentric exorcist and his sassy blind companion. There are also some major plot-holes throughout the whole film, with the most obvious being its actual storyline – getting two dead spirits to kill each other LMAO. Toshio also has a derp face now, yay.
I also laughed so hard at how nonchalantly everybody is telling Suzuka that she has to get herself cursed by Sadako too, especially after she witnessed her own parents being murdered by Kayako HAHA. Like the exorcist literally told her that her parents are gone, and now she has to get cursed again to let these 2 ghouls fight BECAUSE THIS TOTALLY MAKES SENSE.
I would agree with the critics that the some of the scares are actually quite well-done, especially in comparison to Sadako 3D and The Grudge. However, if you are a seasoned horror film watcher, chances are you wouldn’t find any of them remotely creepy.
But you know what? At the end of the day, this goofy film brightened my shitty day, and I really needed its stupidity to make myself feel better. It is better than what I expected, although my expectations were damn low to say the least.