The cover says “from the makers of Ringu (The Ring)”, but in fact the story is of Hiroshi Takahashi who wrote the story of the original Ringu, but as far as I know, the director of “Ju-On” had nothing to do with any of the Ring-films. Anyway, I suppose most of you know at least the first Ringu? Of course I am not talking about the American remake. Ringu was said to be the most frightening film ever and even though the atmosphere is indeed extremely pressing in comparison to Western horrors, I didn’t run out of the room in a fright. But didn’t you too love that scene at the end where Sadako crawls out of the television screen?!? Well in that case, Ju-On is at least 5x scarier than Ringu, because there are several scenes like the one I described from Ringu. Here and there the films are a bit too much alike, but Ju-On is definately very dark, pressing and pretty scary. Like in other Japanese horrors, the atmosphere is mostly created by the sound, so be sure to watch this on on DVD. Deep rumbling, weird sounds, vocal tricks combined with disturbing images, but not much blood. This sure is my kind of thriller/horror. Shimizu even managed to give me goose-flesh a few times. Maybe more of awe than of fright, but the atmosphere is so great!
Minor point: there is not too much story about Ju-On. Again it deals with a curse of a revenging ghost. The title “Ju-On” is explained in the beginning. It is the grudge (but “wratch” or “vengeance” would have been a better translation) of a person who died violently. This is all you need to know, and please keep this advice in mind: do not read the back of the box! because it gives away every surprise that there could possibly be. Oh, the story is a bit hard to follow and it is hard to say if it is given chronologically or if different stories/chapters play in different periods of time. This also comes from the fact that Japanese women are (at least for me) hard to keep apart anyway and when they also change haircuts during the film, I am lost.
Anyway, just like the four Ring-films and for example Kakashi, this film should be watched in a dark room on big speakers at high volume. Also for this film goes that you should watch it for the atmoshere, not for the cheap frights of Western horrors, because you won’t get any. So if you like that and you like the Rings, you will love this one!