Synopsis: Murderous mother-son ghost team Kayako (Takako Fuji) and Toshio (Yuya Ozeki) continue to cut a swath across the Ju-On franchise as this time they murder all the people who work on a TV special about their house. The two angry spirits first single out pregnant actress Kyoko “the horror queen” (Noriko Sakai) after her appearance on the show, causing a car crash which makes her think at first she has miscarried. When the baby comes back to life after Toshio touches Kyoko’s belly, all hell is bound to break loose.
The spirits: You know these entities well. They sometimes look human but mostly look grey with black eyes. Oh yes, and let’s not forget that the ghost kid has a pet ghost cat, but the cat doesn’t seem to kill anyone. Toshio is usually running around naked, and Kayako can do crazy shit like appear as a head and a bunch of hair on the ceiling. Sometimes they appear only as reflections. They make their usual sounds of the death rattle and the thump of a swinging corpse hitting a wall. The scariest thing is that they make people think they’re going insane, such as when Nori (Kei Horie) sees his girlfriend, TV presenter Tomoka (Chiharu Niiyama), sitting on the floor of her apartment but then receives a call from her and realizes she’s not there with him at all.
Importance: I think this one is scarier than the first theatrical Japanese movie, and more fun than the dismal TV movies that preceded that one. Fans of challenging narratives will like Ju On: The Grudge 2 because it’s told out of order and you’re not always sure what someone’s connection to the curse is right away. As a bonus, the characters also sometimes experience things out of order, which is a mind trip for them and for us. Tomoka made the aforementioned phone call to Nori several days before he received it, for example, but we don’t know that until after we see them both die.
Visuals: The sets are done in all neutral colors and so is the wardrobe, and the film itself looks muted or undersaturated. Then we see red in the shot whenever the ghosts are active: blood drops in Kayako’s diary, a red coffee cup spills, blood and red pen on a script, the blood pouring out of Kyoko after the car wreck. Best of all, physical medium and production assistant Megumi (Emi Yamamoto) wears a red coat while everyone else is in shades of beige.
See also: Ju-On, Ju-On 2, Ju-On: The Grudge