The Grudge continues with two Direct-to-DVD releases: Ju-on: Shiroi Roujo (Grudge: Old Lady in White) & Ju-on Kuroi Shoujo (Grudge: Girl in Black). The movies are short (1 hr ea.) and like the previous (Japanese) movies are told through a series of even shorter interconnecting stories. The actual movies though are only vaguely connected in that the Girl in Black ends in the house that spawned the original grudge while Old Lady in White picks up from there but there is no wrong order to watch them.
Grudge: Girl in Black is about a girl named Fukie who goes to the hospital after having a fit at school but she’s not sick, she’s possessed. Further examination reveals she has a cyst containing a parasitic twin. Fortunately her Aunt Mariko has the perfect remedy – baby exorcism!
The tone of Grudge: Old Lady in White is so much lighter it’s comical (pun intended). A new family moves into the cursed house and they don’t fare any better than the first. The only difference is that instead of a creepy albino kid who meows, we get perhaps the least scary ghost ever – basketball granny! (picture right) She doesn’t actually play basketball or even use the ball as a weapon, she just carries it where ever she goes. But this isn’t basketball granny’s first appearance, J-Horror fans will recognize her from Kaidan Shin Mimibukuro (Tales of Terror) “Full-Length Mirror” chapter (picture below). The similarities are eerie but not coincidental. Both movies were directed by Ryuta Miyake, who apparently thinks basketball is the scariest thing since bad wigs.
The already segmented story further discombobulated by multiple flashbacks & flashforwards. Years after the family’s demise, a high school student named Akane uses a Ouija board to summon her childhood friend that lived & died in the house.
Although Girl in Black has a much more succinct story & markedly better special effects, both movies are severely lacking in suspense and ultimately scares. Then again it could just be that after 6 movies, 2 short films, and 3 remakes, gurgling sounds & meowing just ain’t as scary as they used to be.
I think it’s safe to say the Grudge “movie” franchise is dead. Of course if we’ve learned anything from the series it’s that death is just beginning. The grudge will born anew on Oct 13th with its very own video game, and it actually looks scary!