9 February 2016



This is the very first instalment in the GRUDGE series, the collection of brilliant Japanese supernatural horror films that spawned a whole host of imitators. Let me tell you, of all the GRUDGE movies I've seen, this one is the scariest by far.

As it probably had the lowest budget of all of them, this makes me happy. I love it when really good, top-notch horror can be made on the cheap. Let me tell you what it's all about, my little children of the night. What wonderful music you're all making, by the way...!

A nice, mild-mannered schoolteacher called Kobayashi is the central character in this grim little tale, a story, by the way, which any horror director would have been thrilled to come up with. If you only had one idea in your whole lifetime, just imagine if it were this one! You'd be set up for life. I wonder how long Takashi Shimizu spent yearning to make this one film, his one really big, really good idea? Years, maybe? Who knows? It was totally worth waiting for, though.

Kobayashi, whose wife Manami is knocked up with his child, has a bit of a problem. A young fella from his school called Toshio Saeki hasn't been showing up for class. It's Kobayashi's job to pop round to the child's house and see if there's a reason for his absence from school.

He pops round, all right, and sees the nipper hanging around the seemingly empty house, which is portrayed as creepy and isolated from the start, even though there could well be neighbours around about for all we know. Even surrounded by houses, the Saeki residence would still come across as solitary and as lonely as the grave.

The little boy is covered in bruises, bumps and scrapes and he doesn't seem to be quite well. The house is a bit of a tip as well. No adults are anywhere in sight. Who's been looking after little Toshio? Not unnaturally, Kobayashi is concerned that there might be something terribly rotten in the state of Denmark. He decides to take a closer look around the house, never a good idea in a horror film. The house is silent and dreary. I wouldn't set foot in it for any amount of money, even if it were just a set.

Up in one of the bedrooms, Kobayashi discovers Kayako's journal lying around the place. Unable to resist a sneak peek, he's utterly horrified to find out from the pages of the diary that Kayako has a massive, massive crush on him. More than that, she loves him. This is a woman he's barely noticed when she's been dropping off and picking up her son at the school. He's happily married with a wee baby on the way, for Chrissakes. This is totally all news to him.

The journal isn't all that Kobayashi uncovers in the deserted upstairs of the Saeki gaff. From the moment he reads the journal, his life becomes a living nightmare. Horror piles upon horror to give us the spooking of a lifetime. What is contained within Takeo's sack, and what the hell is he doing to it? Who's that coming down the stairs? Who's little Toshio miaowing down the phone to? 'What's that coming over the hill? Is it a monster? Is it a monster...?' All these and other questions will be answered, as usual, in non-sequential order.

In other news, Chiaki Kuriyama, better known perhaps for her performances in KILL BILL and BATTLE ROYALE, undergoes a terrifying ordeal in an empty classroom. And, in the now-sold Saeki house, a mother who thinks she sees her battered, bloodstained daughter Kanna lumbering painfully up the stairs is in for the shock of a lifetime.

This last scene was the most frightening for me. I mean to say, the mother is too scared by what she sees going up her stairs to ask her own daughter what on earth's happened to her. When the girl turns around and reveals herself, well, let's just say that it's a sight you won't forget in a hurry.

The special effects are for the most part simple but extremely effective and scary, unlike in some modern horror films when the CGI just seems to take over and annoy everyone, if you know what I mean.

 And, by the way, does the Saeki house pass the 'psychic' test? You can bet your ass it... Well, I suppose I shouldn't say for fear of that dirty word, spoilers. Eugh, such a dirty, dirty word, haha. I feel all grubby even thinking it.

 Any-hoo, if I haven't said it already, this film is the best of all the GRUDGE movies, American-made or Japanese. In my own humble opinion, of course. You guys can make up your own minds. But when I turn out to be right, you can wire that apology money to my bank any time you like, heh-heh-heh...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can contact her at:


1 comment:

  1. Nice review, and I agree that Ju-on: the Curse is the creepiest of the entire franchise. But personally, I would say the scariest is Ju-on: The Grudge 2. In my humble opinion, that is!