Asian Horror: Modern Classics Pt. II

JU-ON [THE GRUDGE] (2002) – Japan


I was about 13-years-old when I saw this in theaters and it was a real unforgettable, scary and creepy experience. Writer and director Takashi Shimizu created a fairly contained story about a cursed house that will damn anybody who dares to enter it. I remember thinking that the ending didn’t make much sense, but as I’ve re-watched it later on, I’ve come to realize that the outcome doesn’t really matter. Everything else is too perfectly horrifying for the end to take away from the whole film.

The 2004 remake to Ju-On, titled The Grudge, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Bill Pullman, was also directed by Shimizu, and it’s a close second to the original. Its story is more rounded-up overall, and it’s set in Tokyo, a detail I loved.

The music in Ju-On takes the movie to another level, pulling from both the psychological and physical terror in almost every single scene. Be ready because this one leaves a mark.

Written by Takashi Shimizu.
Starring Megumi Okina, Misaki Itô, Misa Uehara, Yui Ichikawa.


Tale of Two Sisters

As the title suggests, this film is about two sisters. They go back home after having been institutionalized in a mental facility, and they have to deal with a weird stepmother and a hostile atmosphere. The plot is a true puzzle that will leave you delighted with its intricacy and wide array of genres (thriller, horror, drama…). Everything is just about perfect in this, from the cinematography to the music and everything in between, including the acting. It has been rightfully called a masterpiece.

If the others were only suggestions, this is a must.

Directed and written by Jee-woon Kim.
Starring Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum, Su-jeong Lim, Geun-young Moon.

SAAM GAANG YI [THREE… EXTREMES] (2005) – Hong Kong/Japan/South Korea

Saam Gaan Yi

An anthology film with short stories by Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike (Audition) and Chan-wook Park (Oldboy).

“Dumplings” tells the story of the most expensive dumplings sold in Hong Kong which have a peculiar ingredient and makes them have rejuvenating properties. If you don’t get sick with nausea after this, you can power through the rest without a problem.

“Box” is not the most popular short film out of the three because it’s the most confusing and vague. We’re experiencing so much from the main character’s story that, like her, it’s hard for us to distinguish what’s real and what’s part of her nightmares.

Finally, “Cut” is the one with the most violence and brutality. It features scenes which challenge the viewer to question whether to keep watching or not, they’re that gruesome.

Each of the short films are extreme in their own way, but all of them requiring a lot from the audience: a strong stomach and a firm mind to endure some of the most powerful scenes.

Written by Bun Saikou (story, “Box”), Haruko Fukushima (“Box”), Pik Wah Lee (“Dumplings”), Chan-wook Park (“Cut”).
Starring Bai Ling, Tony Ka Fai Leung, Byung-hun Lee, Hye-jeong Kang, Kyoko Hasegawa.



ANG-MA-REUL BO-AT-DA [I SAW THE DEVIL] (2010) – South Korea

I Saw the Devil

A tale of twisted serial murders, vengeance and morality. When a serial killer kills his fiancée in a horrible way, Soo-hyun, a top secret agent, swears he’ll track him down whatever the cost. The violence in this film, directed by Jee-woon Kim, will unsettle you. The horror element in the movie we find more in the brutal nature of the killer and vindictive ways of the main character than in anything else. The plot can be predictible, but the depth of the dramatic story wins out.

Written by Hoon-jung Park, Jee-woon Kim.
Starring Byung-hun Lee, Min-siw Choi, In-seo Kim, Joon-hyeok Lee.



Enjoy your Halloween!

Elisabeth S. Contreras
Elisabeth S. Contreras
Film enthusiast and sharer of words. Don't underestimate a woman with an opinion.