Since the release of Ju On: The Grudge, Kayako has been scaring audiences with her twisted movements and haunting death rattle croak elevating her alongside her fellow japanese vengeful spirit, Sadako within the Horror community. Her image transcended across both Japan and America culture, spawning numerous movies with deep resonation along the way, including several filmmakers. Among them and heralding the reboot / reimagining is prolific director Nicolas Pesce, who sent ripples in the film world with his debut The Eyes of My Mother and his sophomore feature Piercing. I was eager to see what Pesce would bring to the celluloid space for his third outing, and was further intrigued by his choice to step into the Ju-On universe promising something more darker, grittier, and more realistic. Whilst I can acknowledge that the film has a realistic quality, unfortunately I struggle to connect with the other two components alleged to be Pesce’s approach.
I tried to scrutinise where he could have misfired and for me it came down to a couple of components; Firstly, the fractured storyline, ordinarily a device that doesn’t grate on me and I often welcome the fragmented reconstruction of narratives, but unfortunately the dots that are used to connect or reframe the films’ structure are weak and lack intelligence. With a lot more focus and planning, this technique could have paid off. Secondly, the dialogue needed to be tighter, at times feeling rushed or obvious, leaving the talented cast trying to do a lot of heavy lifting in order to reach the visualists’ aim for dark and gritty. Lastly, I had read that Pesce wanted to incorporate a conglomerate of visuals that typified the film series and inject with his own musings, but in doing so, the film loses its identity and becomes too convoluted in the process.
For a director on the rise, Pesce clearly wanted to reach out and attempt to infuse his vision into a much-loved franchise in need of a reawakening. On paper, he had the right ingredients, a flair for the scare, a twisted outlook, actors with plenty of chop, and an already established franchise. He even projected the repetition of the number 4 into the fold to highlight the tetraphobia so closely associated with the film series, proving that Pesce knows his subject well.
The end result though fell flat, with too many ideas and not enough weight to ground Pesce’s creativity to produce a film to scare and delight the horror masses. Instead we are left floating around aimlessly, wondering if Kayako is turning in her grave at her latest on-screen treatment and if she has croaked her last croak.
- Saul Muerte