I rewatched 2002’s Ju-On : The Grudge today (yesterday by the time I finished writing this). I took numerous notes (4 pages full to be exact) and it hurt my wrist writing that much. I also added an extra 40 something minutes to the watch time, once I factored in pausing and a couple rewind moments. I actually had a lot of fun doing it though and I enjoyed piecing it all together. I definitely enjoyed it way more on my second watch. If you have the energy, I would advise for you to give it a second watch. If not, don’t stress because I have you covered. I will now give a full breakdown of the plot and how each of the 6 chapters (and characters) all tie together. Obviously, spoilers lie ahead.
The film opens with some text explaining what “Ju-On” is. Essentially, a Ju-on is a curse. One that is born when someone dies in the grips of extreme rage. It gathers in a place and kills all who encounter it. Then, a new curse is born and continues.
After the text, we witness a man (Saeki) cutting up a picture. He is removing the face of his wife from a photo. He then kills his cat (Mar) and his wife (Kayako). I love my cats, but I’d probably start with them too. His son (Toshio) is upstairs and hides in the closet.
Part 1 : Rika
We start at the social welfare office. Hirohashi is asking Rika to go and perform a welfare check on a client. Rika is just a volunteer, but Hirohashi explains how the regular carer is missing. He has vanished, is not answering phone calls and hasn’t even returned the keys to the house. It’s safe to assume that he is dead, considering it is the same house from the prologue.
Anyway, with the promise of dinner, Rika reluctantly agrees to go and do the check in place of the missing social worker. It better be a good meal. As she arrives at the house, she shivers. Obviously, Rika can feel an evil presence over the house. Being a professional (volunteer), she ignores her feelings and enters the house.
The house is absolutely trashed and we can see someone scratching at door from a different room. The culprit is an elderly woman named Sachie and she is (presumably) our client. Rika helps her up and notices a stain on the floor. I noticed when Rika entered the room, there was a sheet on the outside line with a similar stain. Initially, I thought it was somehow related to Kayako, but when I saw the sheet I changed my mind. Kind of. I believe it is likely faeces, the implication being that Sachie was so scared at one point during the night, she soiled herself. Or she could just be really old and unwell. Rika gives Sachie a sponge bath and puts her back to bed.
With Sachie looked after, Rika turns her attention to the house. She really is going above and beyond, especially considering she is just a volunteer. As she is vacuuming, she sucks up a photo that is on the floor. I know I just gave her a compliment, but that’s just lazy, Rika. If you see something that big on the floor, pick it up with your hands, not the vacuum. Anyway, she unfolds the photo and it is revealed to be the same one from the prologue. Rika hears noises upstairs and heads up there to find Toshio and Mar in the closet. The closet door has been taped up.
Understandably, Rika is shaken up. She heads downstairs and questions Sachie about who the boy is. Sachie gives no answer. Rika calls Hirohashi and explains the situation. Hirohashi is on his way over to help. After Rika makes her call, the phone rings. It goes straight to voicemail. The woman on the line identifies herself as Hitomi and she is calling for Kazumi. She wants to check on Sachie.
Rika goes back to check on Sachie. She really is going beyond the call of duty here. Sachie is hysterical and is saying “I told Kazumi. Again and again. Just like you said. Please stop tormenting me”. An all black spirit appears over Sachie. I believe it is Kayako. It appears that Sachie dies and Rika faints.
One other thing I thought that was worth noting is that Toshio looks completely normal in Part 1. He just looks like a normal child, his skin doesn’t have that eerie white appearance. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe he can change at will?
Part 2 : Katsuya
We open with Katsuya cleaning his house. Yes, that house. He mentions how his mother (Sachie) is still asleep. His wife (Kazumi) says it is probably because she is up all night. Apparently, Katsuya can sleep through anything, including evil spirits messing around in his house. As Katsuya leaves for work, he is reminded that his sister (Hitomi – from the previous part’s phone call) is coming for dinner that night. He also offers to call the welfare office to get someone to come and check on Sachie.
In the next scene, Kazumi is having a nap on the couch. She is awoken by a noise. Some items on the table in front of her have been spilled over and the house is once again, trashed. She blames Sachie, who is now sitting up in bed. Kazumi notices the handprints of a child on a door. She notices a cat (Mar) and follows it upstairs. She witnesses the hands of Toshio snatch the cat from the staircase. Understandably, she is freaked out. Less understandably, she goes up the staircase further. We hear Kazumi scream.
Fast forward and Katsuya is arriving home from work. After a small search for his wife, he finds her upstairs on a bed. She is in a catatonic state. As Katsuya goes to call an ambulance, we see Toshio run behind him. Katsuya feels the presence and stops his call. He searches the room for what he felt. And by that, I mean he hits a stool, checks the closet and under the bed. Toshio appears by the side of the bed and meows. The closet door slams shut, seemingly by itself. Kazumi dies and we see the face of Katsuya darken. I believe this is the new curse being born, as stated in the opening text.
Hitomi arrives at the house and says hello to her mother, Sachie. She believes it is just her in the house, so she starts to prepare dinner. Katsuya is moving the body of Kazumi and Hitomi hears him close a door upstairs. She goes upstairs to see what the sound is and is startled when she finds Katsuya sitting on the stairs. She almost cries, that’s how scared she is. Katsuya basically kicks Hitomi out. He was very rude. He mentions how his wife has been with another man and it’s not his child. Is he possessed by the spirit of Saeki? It would make sense. If we look at the prologue, it would seem Saeki thought that Kayako was cheating on him and perhaps doubted that Toshio was his own son. With Hitomi now out of the house, Katsuya heads upstairs and joins the spirit of Kayako.
Part 3 : Hitomi
This scene starts with Hitomi making a phone call to Kazumi (we also witnessed this phone call in Part 1). She hears noises when she is leaving work. I suspect that this scene takes place the morning after the previous part has ended. That would explain why she is now being haunted, because she has been in the house. When she is in a toilet cubicle, she receives a phone call on her mobile from Katsuya, but when she answers all she hears is growling. Someone knocks on the door and she apologises. She opens the cubicle door and nobody is there. She hears the growling again and sees the spirit of Kayako come out of the next stall. Is she haunting her or just taking a bathroom break? It’s important to note that as Hitomi flees, she drops a little teddy bear toy.
Hitomi runs straight to security and the most exhausted looking guy I’ve ever seen is on shift. It must be his 11th or 12th straight day and he is likely nearing the end of another 16 hour shift. He is wrecked. He politely offers to go check it out the restroom where Hitomi just was. Maybe he doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but I just think that he is so tired, he doesn’t give a damn if he lives or dies. Hitomi is watching on the monitor as he goes to investigate. She sees a spirit grab him and bring him into the restroom. This is also important to note, because it could mean that you don’t even have to have gone to the house to be targeted. You can just be loosely associated to someone who has. That is a genuinely terrifying thought.
Hitomi bails. She runs into an elevator and rudely shuts the door on someone else who wanted to go up. As we watch the elevator go up, we witness Toshio watching her, on every single floor. Hitomi arrives into her apartment and locks the door. Her phone rings and it is Katsuya. He asks what her apartment number is. She tells him and tells him to hurry up. The door knocks almost instantly after. She looks through the security peephole and sees Katsuya standing there. She opens the door and he is gone. The phone in her hand starts to growl. Hitomi throws it on the ground outside and slams the door shut.
She runs back inside and unplugs her phone. She dives in to her bed and pulls the covers over her. She is now safe. Surely, Kayako won’t break the sacred rule. The bed is a safe zone, everyone knows that. After about 6 seconds, Hitomi turns on the TV. This is possibly my favourite part in the film. It actually makes me laugh. Even more the second time I watched it. I was laughing so much. I get that she is probably using it as a distraction from being scared, but it just came across as she was bored. I’m laughing as I type this now.
Anyway, now that I’ve pulled myself back together, let’s get back to work. The TV starts to distort and and flicker. It is making the same growling noise. Hitomi is trying to turn it off, but the remote won’t work. Supernatural interference or are the batteries dead? And distorted face appears on the screen, presumably Kayako’s. The TV turns itself off. Hitomi feels something in her bed. It is the teddy bear she dropped in the restroom. The she finds something else in her bed. It’s Kayako. She drags Hitomi under the sheets and they both vanish. Truly terrifying stuff. We are not safe anywhere.
Part 4 : Toyama
Hirohashi has arrived at the house after he received Rika’s call. He finds Sachie dead in her bed and Rika is sitting in the corner of the room. He calls the police and is next seen sitting in the back of a squad car, being comforted by an officer.
Two detectives, Nakagawa and Igarishi are investigating the crime scene. Igarishi finds a business card, presumably belonging to Katsuya. He calls it and they hear the phone ringing, coming from upstairs. The follow the ringing up to the attic and find the dead bodies of Katsuya and Kazumi. The phone is in the front pocket of Katsuya.
Rika wakes up in a hospital bed. By her side is her friend, Mariko. Mariko mentions how Rika is incapable of saying no to Hirohashi. She also mentions how she is able to miss a little bit of school. I think this is just to help establish a timeline for later. Mariko slips out and Nakagawa comes in to question Rika about what happened in the house. She talks about the boy she saw, Toshio. Nakagawa says he will look in to it, but Katsuya and Kazumi do not have any kids.
The detectives are doing some background on the house. Firstly, I want to point out that all of their “police files” are just a bunch of scrapbooks with newspaper clippings. Shouldn’t they be ahead of the press? Anyway, they come to realise that everyone who has lived in that house is either missing or dead. This concerns me that this has happened enough for a “file” to be opened, but no one is ever warned about the house. Igarishi mentions that the sister (Hitomi) is also missing. She was last seen entering her apartment complex by a neighbour. He also mentions that a security guard from her work is dead. I would like to request an autopsy, I believe he could have just died from exhaustion.
They realise that it all started when Takeo Saeki murdered his wife Kayako in the house. Kayako’s body was found in the attic, in the same place where they found the body of Katsuya and Kazumi. The body of Saeki was found dead on the road, by one of their neighbours. Their son Toshio was never found. This leads me to believe that Toshio wasn’t murdered and just hid in the closet until he eventually died, likely from dehydration or starvation. That could explain why he is so thin. Maybe I’m just looking into it too much. It’s also worth noting that the detectives don’t have a file on the cat, who was also murdered. #justiceformar
Igarishi goes to enlist the help of a former detective, Toyama. Toyama is with his daughter, Izumi. He sends her home so he can talk with Igarishi. We learn that Toyama was the lead detective in the Saeki murders. He is the only one left from the original team. I guess that means they are all missing or dead, because they likely would have been in the house. Toyama, is obviously still alive. So is he a part of the curse or has Kayako just not got him yet?
We cut back to Rika and Nakagawa. Rika is shown a photo of Toshio and tells Nakagawa that she is 100% certain that that is the boy she saw in the house. Nakagawa informs her about the murders and says how Toshio has been missing for 5 years now. If he was still alive, he would be 11. Because Toshio looks exactly the same as in the picture, this would confirm that he did die in the house, shortly after the murders. Poor boy.
The body of Hirohashi is discovered to be stuffed under the sink, presumably at the welfare office, but I’m not sure of the location or who the man is who discovers the body. It could be a colleague from the Part 1, but I can’t recall what they looked like.
Toyama joins the investigation team and is watching a security tape with the two detectives. It is from Hitomi’s office, on the night she disappeared. Nakagawa and Igarishi excuse themselves after they are informed that the body of Hirohashi has been found. Toyama continues to watch the tape and sees the guard taken by the spirit. The spirit then slowly walks out of the restroom and down the hall, towards the camera. The camera slowly blacks out and two eyes appear on the screen. Toyama is terrified.
Rika wakes up in her bed. Toshio is watching her. He then moves to the foot of the bed and Kayako is seen watching Rika from the top of the bed. Does this mean she is a part of the curse?
In the next scene, we see Toyama at the Saeki house. He has gasoline and is preparing to burn it down. This probably should have happened a long time ago. He stops when he has a vision. He sees his daughter Izumi and she is with 3 other girls. Saori and Ayano are the names of two, I didn’t get the name of the third. They are all messing around in the house. Izumi flees the house, it seems she can sense the evil within it. As she is fleeing, she locks eyes with her father and the two of them look at one another for a while before Izumi continues to run out of the house.
Let’s pause here for a second, because this scene is really important. Izumi is older in this vision, so we know it is in the future. Izumi can see her father watching her. The two of them are aware of one another, even though they are in different time periods. One of Izumi’s friends mentions how she has ESP (they also mention how she is friends with Chiharu). This happens again in Part 5. I think it’s safe to say that both Toyama and Izumi have ESP. This is how they can see each other and likely how they can sense the evil in the house.
We cut outside and Nakagawa and Igarishi are looking for someone. I believe that it is Toyama they are looking for, considering he was working with them.
Back in the house, Toyama is following the voices of the other girls upstairs. They are all talking in one of the rooms. They mention about Izumi having ESP. They say how Izumi is looking back, like she is unsure of something. Izumi then flees. All of the girls scream. Kayako has presumably arrived and claims them all. The vision ends.
Kayako appears and Toyama flips out. The other two detectives arrive and they also freak out. Toyama flees out the front door and the other two detectives remain behind, presumably killed by Kayako.
Part 5 : Izumi
Izumi is looking at a poster of some missing girls. It is the girls who she went to the house with. I believe the poster has the year “2006” written on it. Izumi is also the same age she was in Toyama’s vision from the last part. We can deduce, this happens shortly after Izumi’s trip to the house.
At school, Izumi and her friends are looking for photos of Izumi on the photo boards. They cannot find a single one. At first, I thought that there weren’t any. One of the teachers said it is impossible. Then I clicked. She was in the photos, but she has vanished from them. It is Kayako. She is missing from the photos because her time left is numbered. Kayako is coming for her.
After school, Izumi is walking home and sees the poster of the missing girls. She runs home. On the news, they mention that the body of Rika has been found in a house, which I believe is the Saeki house. They also mention how she is 23, again helping to establish the time line. Izumi locks herself in her room and looks very unsettled, like she feels a presence watching her. She draws the curtains and sits on her bed.
Chiharu and Miyuki come over to visit Izumi. They are bringing the photos that they got the teacher to print. They are greeted at the door by Izumi’s mother. She does not look well. Izumi lets them in her room and she doesn’t look well either. She quickly returns to bed and pulls her hood over her head. Miyuki goes to open the blinds but Izumi screams at her. It’s too late though, Miyuki has already opened them. The windows have been covered with newspaper.
Izumi reveals to her friends that she was with them when they went missing at the house. Izumi tells them how she can feel the curse and sense the missing girls watching her. Her friends mention how she has ESP. Izumi warns them to stay away from her and then she starts shrieking that they are coming for her.
Her friends leave and are told by Izumi’s mother that Toyama was exactly the same when he died. Taping up the windows and worried that they were coming for him. Izumi isn’t aware of this though. Now we know what happened to Toyama after he fled the house. As the girls are leaving, they open the photographs. Izumi’s eyes have been blacked out in all them. It’s the same with the missing girls. Their eyes have been blacked out. The girls drop the photos and run away.
Izumi comes out of her room that night and sees her father sitting on the floor. He seems unable to speak, but he reaches out to Izumi. Izumi confirms that she saw him that day when she was in the house. She then wakes up, revealing that it was a dream, but it still confirms the ESP angle. Now that she is awake, she notices newspaper on the floor and bed. There are gaps in the window and Izumi sees the faces of the girls through the window.
She flees her bedroom and is closely followed by the 3 girls. They are in the house with her. She runs to another room and shuts the door. She puts a chair in front of it, but I don’t think it does anything. It is a sliding door and doesn’t have a handle to wedge a chair under. The 3 girls enter the room and Kayako grabs Izumi from behind. The curse has now consumed Toyama and Izumi.
Part 6 : Kayako
Rika receives a phone call from Mariko and they make plans to meet. This is in the future and Rika would be about 23 years old. We know this because she has graduated, so has Mariko. So we understand that Rika has recovered from her time in the house and moved on with her life. One of Rika’s clients, Mr. Saito is playing peek-a-boo with what appears to be nobody.
As Rika walks Mr. Saito through the park, he continues to play peek-a-boo. If you are really quick, you can catch the reflection of Toshio in a door. Mr. Saito has been playing peek-a-boo with Toshio. The curse is not done with Rika yet. Later, in the shower, Rika is washing her hair. She feels a hand touch her head, but nobody else is in the bathroom.
Fast forward and Rika is having lunch with Mariko. Mariko mentions that she has a problem child in her class. Rika feels a cat against her leg. She looks under the table and sees Toshio. Obviously, she freaks out.
Rika is home and sleeping in bed. She wakes up when she hears meowing. Her room is full of black cats. The phone rings and Rika wakes up again. The cats were just a dream. As she moves to answer the phone, she briefly sees Toshio in the corner of her room. It’s Mariko on the phone, just checking in on Rika. She mentions how she is at the house of the problem child. Rika hears growling through the receiver and she realises that Mariko is at the Saeki house.
We cut to Mariko and she is following Toshio up the stairs. Rika has rushed over to the house and she has to cross some police tape to enter. This has me confused. Why did Mariko enter the house if it was taped up? Did she not see it? Whilst we are on the topic of confusion, I’m not sure how Mariko didn’t realise that Toshio was the same boy that Rika was talking about in the hospital or realise the Saeki house was the same house Rika was at that day. I know she left the room when Nakagawa was talking, but surely she must of realised at some point. Rika must of mentioned it to her at least once over the years and it’s not something you just forget. Or is she just doomed because Rika is part of the curse and has dragged Mariko into it?
Anyway, the house is super dusty. It looks like nobody has been here for years. The police tape was working. Rika heads upstairs, she is looking for Mariko. She arrives just in time to see Kayako dragging Mariko in to the attic. Rika is the world’s greatest friend because she follows her straight into the attic with zero hesitation. She’s a great friend and a great volunteer. Her bravery ends when she sees Kayako. She runs away and tries to make her exit.
She is stopped when she runs past a mirror though. The face she saw in the reflection wasn’t her own. It was Kayako’s. This confused me a little bit. I think it is saying that Kayako has been with her ever since she stepped foot in that house. She has been a part of the curse and her fate is tied to Kayako’s. Toshio has been following her ever since.
Kayako then descends the staircase, in a very creepy way. She is covered in blood and it is quite unsettling. They kind of play peek-a-boo and it confuses me a bit more. Then Saeki appears and comes down the staircase. The scene ends with Rika screaming “no” as Saeki reaches out to her. I believe this is where Rika dies, as we find out on the TV in part 5.
If you are still with me, well done. Thanks for reading it all. It took me many hours to write. Not to mention watching the film twice. I hope you have a better understanding of the film. I certainly do. I definitely enjoyed it a lot more on my second watch. Chronologically, I believe it goes in the following order : Prologue, Part 2, Parts 1 & 3 overlap, Part 4, Part 6 and then Part 5. I still wish it was told in that order, but I must admit I had a lot of fun watching it and dissecting it.
I’m also way more scared of it now then I was before! Normally there is a way to appease the spirit or at least avoid them all together. That is not the case in this films series! You could just be an overworked security guard who happens to be loosely associated with someone who spent a couple of minutes in the house! Sometimes, I remember how lucky I am to have an average life. That’s the beauty of a good horror film, it reminds how lucky you are to have the simple things in life. See you all tomorrow!