What has been nice about the recent Japanese horror wave is that it has generally resisted excessive exposition. Whilst the body of the film of The Ring was trying to find out why people were dying after watching the video, this took a resolute back seat to actually trying to break the curse. Dark Water went a step further just taking as read that a horrific death would lead to ghosts.

Ju-On: The Grudge goes even further in that it barely explains anything that is going on. All that can be relied on is that people are continually going to be stalked by that scary kid and then die. The film being chopped into segments mainly named after this chunks victim, reinforces the inevitability of the cycle, as does the non-sequential narrative, leaping back and forth in time. Some of this leaping around leaves us with a few problems, how much time has passed between the deaths of the ex-cop father and his daughter (one would think at least three years, but this would leave this as being a murder which takes place after the films apparent conclusion). With no clear way of asserting what started the Grudge, we flounder around looking for reasons. Is it the boy, is it the woman? Is it something to do with the old lady. Who taped the kid up? None of these questions are ever adequately answered, which in turn adds to the mystery and hence horror of the film. There is little gore and nothing leaps out and you to scare you in your seat. Instead Ju-On relies on mystery and a fair amount of death to unsettle its audience. Generally it works. It certainly makes a good case for not volunteering for social services.

That said, with the short length of each of the episodes within the film, I have no idea how the Hollywood remake (by the same director who has made this film about eighteen times now it appears) is going to service the needs of having a star in it. Sarah Michelle-Gellar will be playing the lead, but it as it stands, this is a film resolutely without a lead role. Interesting.