10 April 2010 | DICK STEEL
A Nutshell Review: Ju-On: White Ghost and Black Ghost
I suppose it makes logical sense for the distributors here to combine both Ju-on: White Ghost and Black Ghost stories in 1 screening. After all, each is only 1 hour long, and narratively are somehow intertwined together quite loosely, with their production marking 10 years since Ju-on's cinematic premiere. Helmed by two different directors, we're given two direct-to-video productions, each with its own flavour and separate storyline dealing with the Ju-On Grudge curse, and frankly, with its limited production budget and consistent elements,
For those unfamiliar with the Ju-on mythos (like me), fret not, as the films are self- contained, so prior in-depth knowledge is not required to enjoy what's essentially one of the longer enduring J-horror franchises out there, which has been remade by Hollywood as always. For both tales, the story lines were done in non-linear fashion, which is supposed to make you work at piecing together its chronology, with an increased challenge in White Ghost being two separate timelines you have to make mental notes of.
Then there's the episodic cliffhanger that trails off each segment. On its own, the episodes within White Ghost and Black Ghost can be extremely short stories of their own, since each contains its own dedicated shock-scare moments, though White Ghost seemed to enjoy making it look so cheesy with its atmospheric jump scares, sudden appearances and the likes, and I admit it did get to me, especially with that old ugly woman with a penchant for holding onto a basketball (yes, all will be explained in due course) seem to have a fetish for charging towards her victim / screen.
Personally, between the two, I'd prefer White Ghost to Black Ghost, mainly because of the storyline which was more engaging and kept within its limits, save for a tangent in White Ghost for AV star Mihiro to appear in a needless scene that had most of her screen time being butchered for a screening here (no, my friend who has met her before, says there's nothing sexy about that segment, more of a violent treatment which was rather tame that the censors frowned upon). For Black Ghost, it went off into the hokeyness of a Japanese medium of sorts, probably to show off some snazzy looking CG-ed belly, and a tale that's less engaging.
For what it's worth, these stories did enough to pique my interest in the original Ju-on mythos, and I just might pick them up on DVD just to see how those got executed. For starters though, I have to get used to how "The Grudge" can be used as a plot device for ghouls to get created / passed on, as I felt White Ghost had it quite nailed down, and Black Ghost didn't exactly do a great job on that concept.