Ju-on pisses me off

Made the mistake of watching Ju-On: Shiroi Rojo on YouTube, thinking it might be better than previous entries in the franchise. When will I learn? It was disturbing, definitely, but not for the right reasons. It was disturbing because of the superficial way it employed imagery like domestic violence and child abuse as cheap devices for creating an atmosphere of awfulness.

I’m a horror fan, but I think that when horrible, but plausible, concepts like these become a kind of shorthand whereby directors hope to achieve a suitably bleak scenario, something has gone terribly wrong. Supernatural horror is supposed to unsettle by challenging our notions of life and death. Clearly violence can be intimately bound up in this. But to introduce truly awful real-world thematic elements into the mix in a shallow, manipulative way, just to make the audience squirm, is not only an ineffective cinematic tactic. It’s also insulting to the audience, not to mention highly offensive.

Where supernatural J-Horror is concerned, there’s the Hideo Nakata approach, and there’s the Takashi Shimizu approach (Ringu and Ju-On, respectively). One is golden. The other is awful, embarrassing, and seriously worrisome horseshit.

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