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Review © Mandi Apple, 2004.

Please note: this is a review of the video version of Ju-on 2 which was made in 2000, and is not a review of the 2003 theatrical remake. Please see the navigation bar on the left for links to other movies in the Ju-on series.

Directed by Shimizu Takashi, 2000, 76 min. starring Taro Suwa, Denden, Yuuko Daike, Makoto Ashikawa, Kahori Fujii, Takako Fuji, Ryôta Koyama and Takashi Matsuyama.

Just lately, we here at Snowblood Apple have received a whole load of emails asking why Ju-on 2, the sequel to the phenomenally successful original V-Cinema video movie written and directed by Shimizu Takashi, would appear to have been not exactly made but rather a chopped-off segment from the first movie.

Well, why would anyone ask that, I hear you cry? Because, and be warned if you've not already forked over the cash for this one as I shall say this only once: Ju-on 2 features what might possibly be described (if you were of a kindly, meek, mild, nay, even forgiving nature, unlike most of the staff here at SA) as ... rather a lot of regurgitated material from the first flick. How much? Approximately 30 minutes' worth, completely unexpurgated, that's how much.

Put in other words, out of 76 minutes' Ju-on 2, you, the purchaser, will end up paying around £20 GBP for 40 minutes of original material. Yep, you heard me right. 40 stinking minutes. Just over the duration of one weekday episode of EastEnders, if that puts things into perspective for you a little better.

Don't get me wrong now - the first movie was an awesome piece of work and certainly more than deserved its acclaim, both critically and financially. My problem is that it looks highly suspiciously as though the first and second Ju-on video movies probably started life as one ordinary length feature film, and then got cut in half in order to part folks from double the amount of their hard-earned cash, which is cheap and lousy and outrageous practice.

And considering I was already having misgivings about the quality of the ever-burgeoning Ju-on franchise becoming an tawdry exercise in moneymaking - which it was certainly beginning to smell of when the pre-production of a forthcoming US remake of Ju-on involving Sam Raimi was announced recently (under the planned title of The Grudge) and, you guessed it, Shimizu Takashi, again - well, what can I say? For the first time in my life there was so much stuff ripped off from another movie, I had to take a DVD out of the player to check the label to make sure I had the right film playing, and that just about put the tin lid on it for me.

That said, what about the actual quality of the 40-something minutes of movie you do get for parting with the readies? Well, I guess the best thing you can say about it is that it's pretty much more of the same, but without the scares. Again, suspiciously it would appear that the storylines of the original video movie are continued to their conclusion in Ju-on 2 - a fact which would certainly lend substance to the case that this movie was indeed simply split from the original.

However, and to the movie's detriment, you don't even really get the stellar presences from Ju-on 1 featuring here. Certainly there's no actor up to the level of Chiaki Kuriyama, who appeared briefly in the first movie, and Yanagi Yuurei only appears in the 30-minute-long "flashback" (snigger) you have to endure before the new material seamlessly (snigger) continues from there. In their stead, Taro Suwa makes a welcome enough comeback as the detective Kamio, with an extended plotline, along with Denden - two of the hardest-working actors in J-cinema today (indeed, I challenge you to track down a film that doesn't feature a performance by Taro Suwa, or Ren Osugi, come to that :-D) and whose acting quality is generally pretty decent. The rest of the performances are reasonable, which, again, is about the best thing you can say about it.

That's the thing, though: as with most ongoing series, Ju-on is definitely suffering from a case of severely diminishing returns. There are infinitely fewer scare scenes in Ju-on 2 than there were in the original movie - but IMHO even those are better than the theatrical release Ju-on: The Grudge (which will soon be getting its own review here at SA), which would thoroughly fail to scare a chihuahua with a nervous tic.

And again, the sheer awfulness of the special FX, which mirrors the sheer awfulness of the special FX in the first movie, supports the case even further that this is not newly-made: surely, given that Ju-on must have made a mint due to its massive cult success in Japan, the sequel would have warranted a more expansive budget for effects?

Either way, I find all this negativity very sad, because I, for one, really did enjoy the original movie a great deal, as my review reflected. But think about this seriously for a moment: how many movies are now encompassing the Ju-on franchise? Gakko no kaidan G, Ju-on, Ju-on 2, Ju-on: The Grudge theatrical, Ju-on: The Grudge 2 theatrical, and now the proposed Hollywood remake as well, which is supposed to be going by the name The Grudge, although I myself would have been tempted to name it The Curse - simply to distinguish it from all the others, and also because I'm running out of available alternative titles to indicate all the different bloody versions ;-)

I dunno about you, but frankly I'm halfway to being totally sick of the whole story. That super-freaky tag team of the utterly Sadako-style ghost Kayoko and the downright bizarre child-spook Toshio are beginning to look, well, a bit... boring, dare I say it? It's overkill of the worst kind: after all, there's only so much you can do with the Ju-on curse mythology, and attempting to stretch it over six movies is IMHO spreading it a little thin.

And if you were somehow expecting that Ju-on 2 would magically provide all the answers to all the confusing elements and questions raised by the original movie (apparently, in Japan this movie was touted during its publicity campaign as doing so), then I'm afraid you're going to be even more disappointed than you no doubt already were. If anything, there was more explanation in the original - in fact, all the explanation you could ever need, albeit presented in a very obscure way - and this film just muddies the water. You won't understand a single solitary thing if you haven't seen Ju-on - and not even the 30-minute "flashback" (snigger) will help you out with this one.

So, to put it bluntly, in this version, matters are made even worse by the unnecessary and convoluted dragging-out of the story involving the estate agent, Tatsuya Suzuki (played by Makoto Ashikawa), and his psychic sister Kyôko (Yuuko Daike) through lateral plotlines involving various other family members. As far as new material goes, there is also an extra scene continuing the storyline involving Detective Kamio (Taro Suwa) and his ex-partner Yoshikawa (Denden), who has suffered a nervous breakdown and left the force; and one further scene involving a newlywed couple moving into the Saeki house of horrors - which, to my ultimate terror (at least I can say one thing scared me about this flick), got partially regurgitated again in the plot of Ju-on: The Grudge theatrical version - groan! ;-D

And that is as much 'synopsis' as it is possible for me to post without featuring any spoilers. Yep, that's all there is: but what do you expect within 40 minutes? War and Peace? So for the first time ever in Snowblood Apple history, there is no synopsis section - that's it there in the previous paragraph!

So in conclusion, if you enjoyed the first movie, by all means go buy this for the extra 40 minutes' worth of tacked-on and tacky crap... but don't say we didn't warn you, which is more warning than we got, and no mistake ;-) This movie left a really bitter taste in my mouth, and pretty much confirmed my worst fears about the series, which is a great shame.

Snowblood Apple Rating for this film:
Entertainment value: 0/10
Chills: 0/10
Violence: 0/10
Sex: 0/10
Special FX: 0/10
Point in Purchasing: 0/10
Anybody beginning to see a pattern emerging here?: 0/10

Films in a Similar Style: Ju-on (TV), Ju-on: The Grudge, Ju-on: The Grudge 2, Gakko no kaidan G, Ring

***Only buy if you have a burning desire to find out what happened to the estate agent***

Ju-on 2 (TV version) Wallpaper

You can download this wallpaper here: [800x600] [1024x768]
Wallpaper credit: Alex Apple, 2003

Snowblood Apple Filmographies

Takashi Shimizu
Taro Suwa
Yuuko Daike
Makoto Ashikawa

Links (not many featuring the video versions, unfortunately, but here's a few for the moment)

http://www.foutz.net/movies/juon2tv.shtml - a really long, positive and indepth review, stuffed with tasty spoilers and lots of info on the rest of the Ju-on franchise to boot
http://www.sanchodoesasia.com/sdj/sdj_ju_on2.php - as usual, Sancho Does Asia pulls a full review out of the bag [French only]
http://www.benkay.co.jp/jyuon2.html - the artwork for the DVD cover
http://www.japattack.com/japattack/film/juon_itv.html - An interview with Shimizu Takashi relating to the video versions of Ju-on
http://www.cinemasie.com/fiche/oeuvre/juon2/- A little info but not much [French only]

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