Ju-on | Chicago Reader

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Time magazine critic Richard Corliss recently described Takashi Shimizu's “Ju-on” series as “a superbly orchestrated symphony of fear,” but this first installment is more like a sonata movement played over and over. The basic set piece involves a young woman tiptoeing through an eerily silent house until she encounters a white-faced little boy and/or a pale-blue serpent woman crawling around on her belly; a fragmented narrative allows Shimizu to milk this icily effective formula for nearly an hour without developing any story momentum, but by the end I felt like one of the traumatized victims staring dully into space. This went straight to video in Japan but made its U.S. theatrical debut in August 2004, two months prior to Shimizu's Hollywood remake with Sarah Michelle Gellar, The Grudge. In Japanese with subtitles. 92 min.

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