Social worker Rika is sent to help a bed-ridden old woman, only to be confronted in thehome by terrifying and deadly apparitions. The film then jumps back and forth in time, showinghow every person who has any connection, however slight, with the evil house is hunted, hauntedand killed by the malevolent ghosts.
If that summary sounds a bit slight, that’s because the plot is, indeed, close to non-existent.The US version is actually considerably more coherent (and in …any ways an improvement overthe original, heresy as it might be to suggest this). Instead of a storyline, we have a relentlessassault of supernatural set-pieces. Basically, this is a horror film that consists of nothing but thescary bits. The effect can be either overwhelming or repetitive, depending on the viewer. Whatis indisputable is that the manifestations themselves are extremely creepy.
And that creepiness is magnificently conveyed by the audio track. The film alternatesbetween a spare, quiet sound and a deafening crescendo during the ghost attacks, and thepatented throat noise the female ghost makes is extremely disturbing in full 5.1 surround. Themusic thunders at these moments too. Turn the sound up during the quiet moments, leave thevolume up, and brace yourself.
The transfer is excellent, with superbly deep blacks and fine contrasts, so none of the scaresare murky. The image is sharp, and the colours are deceptively mundane, luring viewers into aworld that looks so much like the everyday, the disruptions are all the more upsetting. There isno grain or edge enhancement visible, and the flesh tones are true-to-life.
Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel (who backed the remake) do the commentary, and talk not justabout this film but about how low-budget horror in general works, and their own memories ofmaking films such as The Evil Dead. There is behind-the-scenes for three differentsequences, five deleted scenes and the alternate ending (with subtitled commentary by directorTakashi Shimizu), and interviews with Shimizu and four of the cast. On the Deleted Scenesmenu, highlight the coffee mug at the bottom of the screen to open an Easter Egg: “True Stories:Ju-On” — a ghost story whose only visual is a lit candle. There are also trailers for the feature,Dagon and Undead. The menu is animated and scored, and will freak out the faintof heart.
A welcome release. Though the lack of any real narrative makes this less frightening, I wouldargue, than The Eye, this is still must-viewing for any horror fan.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage
- Cast and Director Interviews
- Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending
- Easter Egg