2.0 of 5 Stars: Beware the basketball wielding grandmother!
Ah “Ju-On”…perhaps it is long time past to say goodbye. Although the first film remains one of the classics of the J-Horror genre, with each subsequent release there remains less and less to scrape off the bottom of the barrel.
This film “Ju-On: Shiroi Roujo” (English translation “Ju-On: The White Old Lady”) is part of a two-part release with “Ju-On: Kuroi Shojo” “Ju-On: Black Young Girl”). They were produced in honor of the tenth anniversary of the original “Ju-On” V-Cinema release often known in English as “Ju-On: The Curse.” Although since that film was released in 2000, the tenth anniversary is a little bit early.
Really, this film has only the barest of connection with the original series. The “Ju-On” house is present, and Toshio pops up with his cat grown just to let us know what series we are in, but that is about it.
The story follows the son of a business man who fails to pass his critical bar exam and then murders his entire family, leaving behind a cassette tape after he hangs himself. On the tape is the mysterious female voice of a young girl saying “Go…go now…” Into this story comes Akane (played by nineteen-year old J-Idol Minami Akina) a highschool girl with supernatural senses who keeps catching glimpses of her old schoolgirl chum Mirai, who was molested and murdered when then were young. (Any guesses as to whose voice is the mystery girl on the tape?).
The plot for “Ju-On: Shiroi Roujo” is really disjointed, although it follows some of the standard rules of “whoever enters this house dies.” A small side scene has a poor guy delivering Christmas Cakes show up at the house, only to return home and murder his girlfriend (played by adult video actress Mihiro in a tiny bit part. For the record, Mihiro takes off none of her clothes and has sex with absolutely nobody, which seems a waste of her talents in a film like this. I think I will stick to the other Mihiro films in my collection.) The main haunting ghost, and titular character, is the grandmother who was murdered by her grandson in the big family slaying, who likes to freak people out by tossing a basketball around before showing up in a bad white fright-mask and killing them.
Directed by Miyake Ryuta, who was apparently hand-picked by “Ju-On” czar Shimizu Takeshi, “Ju-On: Shiroi Roujo” is barely passable as something to watch. Miyake imported his “basketball wielding grandmother ghost” from a previous effort of his, a short segment on “Kaidan Shin Mimibukuro” (“Tales of Terror from Tokyo and All Over Japan”) in an attempt to put something of his own stamp on the series. The special effects work here is just terrible, and the ghost grandma comes off looking like someone wearing the “Ghost Face” mask from the “Scream” series, eliciting laughs rather than frights whenever she shows up.
Not that it was a complete waste. At about an hour long, “Ju-On: Shiroi Roujo” isn’t too much of an investment to watch and there are a few nice scenes. The dismembered head in a bag in the back of a taxi was a nice touch. Minami Akina is nice to look at, and there are worst ways to spend an hour. If your expectations are low, you might have some fun with this film.
I have heard that the second film, “Ju-On: Kuroi Shojo” is the better of the pair, but I haven’t had the chance to see that yet.