Like a chalk-faced, black-haired female ghoul crawling backwards at you across a ceiling, the Grudge franchise refuses to die. Marking the 15th anniversary, Ochiai Masayuki has written and directed The Grudge: Beginning Of The End (AKA Ju-On: Owari no hajimari). The first Grudge since 2009, it’s also, if you include the American instalments, the tenth film in the series. The Japanese trailer that just arrived online demonstrates that the scares still work, even if they’re reassuringly familiar.
The story this time involves an elementary school teacher named Yusi, who visits the home of Toshio Saeki, because he’s been absent from school for a long time and she hasn’t seen any of the other films. Arriving at the house, she starts to re-live the horrific tragedy that befell the Saekis a decade earlier. And there’s a mysterious cardboard box in a cupboard that holds the key to a mystery.
The Grudge is a curse that keeps on being reborn, which is appropriate given that that’s the hook of the entire unwieldy series. Beginning with short films and two Japanese TV movies in 2000, director Takashi Shimizu spun the Ju-On tale into two theatrical Japanese features in 2003. He then helmed a Hollywood remake of the first starring Sarah Michelle Gellar in 2004, and stayed around for 2006’s The Grudge 2, which again featured Gellar but was a stand-alone movie not based on Ju-On 2. Following this so far?
Then in 2009, we have two non-Shimizu Japanese entires in Old Lady in White and Girl in Black (released together as Ju-On: White Ghost / Black Ghost), plus the American DTV Grudge 3, directed by Toby Wilkins, starring Shawneee Smith from the Saw films and Counsellor Deanna Troi.
And that, apart from a Wii game, was the lot – until now. Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures are also developing a fourth US version currently in the hands of Jeff Buhler (who wrote the Clive Barker adaptation The Midnight Meat Train). That’s thought to be a reboot, but given the overlapping and repeated material running through all the films already, it doesn’t make a great deal of difference. That’s further in the future, however.
In the meantime, Owari no hajimari is out in Japan on June 28. There are no other international release dates so far.