is the title of a series of horror films
by Japanese director Takashi Shimizu
. Shimizu attended the Film School of Tokyo
, where he studied under Kiyoshi Kurosawa
. Kurosawa helped Shimizu shepherd the Ju-on
projects to fruition.
The title of the films translates roughly to The Curse
or The Grudge
. The first two films in the series were so-called V-Cinema
, or direct-to-video
releases, but became surprise hits
as the result of favorable word of mouth. The story is a variation on the classic haunted house
theme, as well as a popular Japanese horror trope, the "vengeful ghost
). The curse
of the title, ju-on
, is one which takes on a life of its own and seeks new victims. Anyone who encounters a ghost killed by the curse is killed themselves and the curse is able to be spread to other areas.
Under very tight budgetary constraints, Shimizu's films garnered much acclaim from both critics and genre fans for their effective use of limited locations and eerie atmosphere to generate chills. Shimizu was at the same time perfectly willing to show his ghosts onscreen, in contrast to some directors who might choose only to hint at their appearance. But critics noted that Shimizu's minimalist approach to directing and storytelling — a necessary by-product of the production's limited overall resources — allows the films to retain their ability to unnerve viewers. Very few scenes in the movies are graphically bloody, making such scenes more disturbing when they occur.
Following the success of the two direct-to-video films, and the international success of Hideo Nakata's Ring (1998), Kurosawa and Ring screenwriter Hiroshi Takahashi helped Shimizu develop Ju-on as a theatrical feature starring Megumi Okina and Takako Fuji. Titled Ju-on: The Grudge, this was released in 2003 to critical acclaim, and the US remake rights were purchased, with Shimizu himself attached to direct and Sarah Michelle Gellar starring. Later that year, a theatrical sequel, Ju-on: The Grudge 2, was released. In 2004, the US remake, The Grudge, was released.
was originally released as two straight-to-video Japanese television movies in 2000. They were low-budget, and not available in stores in America. Three years later, due to the success of the videos, Takashi Shimizu, director of all, made a theatrical version based on the videos, titled Ju-on also, (sometimes noted as Ju-on: The Grudge). This version is widely available in America. Then that version spawned a sequel, now available in America, titled Ju-on 2 (Ju-on: The Grudge 2). A year later Takashi Shimizu directed The Grudge, an American remake. It is noted that it is based on theatrical version of Ju-on, but it contains scenes re-enacted from all of the Ju-on movies
- Ju-on, aka Ju-on: The Curse (V-Cinema); (Available only in Japan, and in Scandinavia, has been on US TV)
- Ju-on 2, aka Ju-on: The Curse 2 (V-Cinema); (Available only in Japan, has been on US TV)