Ju-On: The Beginning of the End
Original title: 呪怨: 終わりの始まり
Director: Ochiai Masayuki
What do most iconic horror series have in common? Their respective producers think that making more and more of them will keep raking in the cash.
Looking through a lot of legendary Hollywood horror series, like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Saw, it’s a common opinion that the quality of each franchise becomes more diluted with each entry.
Being in the J-horror genre doesn’t protect Ju-On from that curse, showing that even Kayako, much like many great movie monsters, can run out of tricks to surprise us. But, in an effort to give us something new, The Beginning of the End was written to be a reboot of the entire series.
Unlucky followers (because the “fans” disappeared a long time ago) of the Ju-On series are still wondering what the hell was up with the ending to 2003’s Ju-On 2. To remind you all, in case you’ve forgotten, Kayako is born once more into the world, then proceeds to thank her new mom by pushing her off a bridge.
The films released after Ju-On 2, Ju-On: White Ghost and Ju-On: Black Ghost didn’t do anything to continue the story, nor involve the central Saeki family. Instead, they were separate stories about separate grudges.
In this reboot, the story centers on unlucky schoolteacher Yui (Sakai Nozomi). Why is she unlucky? Because she happens to be the teacher of our favorite boy in whiteface – Toshio (played this time by Kobayashi Kai). Yui-Sensei has noticed that Toshio-kun has never shown up to class, presumably because he’s off stalking schoolgirls in his undies again. Or practicing his dead-sexy model face. Or both.
Yui-Sensei visits the home of Toshio, and meets his deranged mother Kayako (unfortunately not Fuji Takako, but instead Saisho Misaki). It is from then she starts to dive into the horrific events that happened in the family’s past, and the vengeful grudge that punishes any and all who enter the house.
The beginning of the film tricked audiences into thinking it was going to be different, being shot in the same found-footage style as Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project. But after a few minutes in, we are introduced into the (formulaic) anachronistic style that we come to expect from the storytelling of films that share the Ju-On name.
There is nothing bad with keeping tradition. But, if the story was going to keep featuring non-linear storytelling, it should try to keep the audience interested by giving them new ways to off victims, new types of scares, and so on. It’s a reboot and all, but killing the cat in the microwave oven doesn’t count as offering something new, when in the original story the cat was drowned in a bathtub.
We still have schoolgirls (the equivalent of the dumb blonde in a Hollywood horror film, apparently) wander into the haunted house because, well, why not? We still have Toshio playing peek-a-boo. But wait, Kayako doesn’t crawl down the stairs, so that counts as new, doesn’t it?
All in all, this latest entry in the renowned J-horror series was uninspired, relying on the tropes that made the first films famous. The acting was sub-par, and the story predictable. Though, after everything, admittedly the final scare was the only thing that was anything close to interesting.
As the name Beginning of the End suggests, a sequel was released, entitled The Final, and it is supposedly will be the last. This makes us followers wonder why it has taken so long for producers to quit milking the franchise. Or, if producers will surprise everyone with a sequel in which Kayako goes to space, like Jason, or the hood, like the Leprechaun.
Actually, I’d watch a Ju-On: In Space film. Or a Kayako vs. Sadako. Because, if it’s any indication by from this and films like Sadako 3D (and it’s sequel), the J-horror genre is in need of something to spin things back to life.
Watch this film…
…if you can’t get enough of vengeful female spirits with hair whips.