I have always seen Japan and Korea to be the true masters of horror. There’s something about the way they tell a story and the distinct quirks that really give Asian cinema an edge when it comes to instilling fear in viewers. The same is the case in Ju-On: Origins. With plenty of chilling moments and complicated, intricate storylines, the Netflix original series has all the potential to be the perfect choice for those that are drawn to this particular brand of the horror genre.
Ju-On: Origins isn’t a Stand-Alone Series
While it’s perfectly possible to watch and understand Ju-On on its own, the series ties in nicely with the many movies from the ‘The Grudge’ franchise. Even if you have seen the movies, however, there’s still every chance that Origins will often leave you confused and with a plethora of unanswered questions.
The twists and turns of the Netflix original, as plentiful and intricate as they are, leave a sense of bafflement when the final credits roll. Like I say, watching the movies beforehand isn’t a necessity but it may just answer some of the questions that Ju-On: Origins leaves hanging over you as the final credits roll.
So, What’s Ju-On: Origins About?
While the series starts in the ‘80s, the core story of Ju-On (or ‘The Grudge’, to its friends) all starts in 1952 as it takes us back to show how it all started. A deranged kidnapper kidnapped a woman and kept her locked up in the attic of a property belonging to his realtor father. Over an undisclosed period of time, he beat and raped his prisoner until she fell pregnant with his baby. The lady then goes on to die, but not before giving birth to the child, born of hate.
It’s unclear what happened to the baby but the ghost of the lady resides in the attic and casts a curse on anyone that’s unfortunate enough to enter the house; this gives meaning to the show’s name, which literally translates to “Curse Grudge”. The cursed victims are always drawn back to the house on their inevitable untimely demises; where they haunt the rooms as tortured spirits. These victims can be seen around the house throughout the series.
Due to an unscrupulous realtor agent, the house is often sold on for a cheap price to couples. Unbeknownst to them of its dark past, and, thus, the curse continues.
I don’t want to give anything away, but the storyline is deeply woven into the whole franchise.
Is it OK for Children to Watch Ju-On: Origins?
While the series doesn’t subscribe to the American branch of jump-scare horror, it does carry some haunting tones. With more than one DIY C-section shown to during the show, it’s needless to say certain parts of Ju-On can get quite gory. However, these moments are few and far between, with the signature Japanese scares carrying the show. Furthermore, there is a rape scene in the first episode that some may find unsettling or upsetting.
How Long is it?
Origins is a rather short-lived series. With episodes only lasting 30-minutes, it’s easy to find yourself tearing through them. Furthermore, at the moment there is only one season to watch (six episodes). I watched them all inside of a day, without really realizing it. The complex story has a way of drawing you in from the beginning to the explosive end.
With the series still being quite fresh (July 2020), it’s unknown if another series will be made. It’s likely that Netflix would need to review their statistics before writing anything in stone. If a series 2 was to be greenlighted, it’s likely we will see it this Summer. I, for one, have my fingers firmly crossed. Maybe a sequel will answer some of my own questions; there are so many.
Ju-On: Origins is a solid, Japanese horror series with a deeply intricate storyline. While, at times, it’s a little hard to follow; it does reward the required extra attention needed with “EUREKA” moments as parts of the story fall into place. I’ve heard a lot of cynicism surrounding this movie-to-series offering, but I struggle to understand why.
There are a few dull moments as the plot seems to needlessly apply the brakes a little, but that’s commonplace in the genre. These infrequent crawls are used to explain other elements of the plot but leave the viewer antsy for another of those beautiful, signature Japanese cinema chills.
Any fan of The Grudge franchise would warm to Origins. It’s refreshing to see Japanese Cinema as a Netflix original.