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Ju-Rei: The Uncanny
Ju-Rei The Uncanny
Actors: Chinatsu Wakatsuki, Mirai Ueno, Eriko Kazuto
Director: Koji Shiraishi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2004     1hr 16min

A group of high school girls discover the truth to an urban legend when one by one, each begins to die under mysterious circumstances after witnessing a black hooded figure. Who is the black hooded figure and will these g...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Chinatsu Wakatsuki, Mirai Ueno, Eriko Kazuto
Director: Koji Shiraishi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Pathfinder Home Ent.
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/26/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 16min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

"Uncanny," Indeed!
Ace-of-Stars | Honolulu, Hawaii | 12/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"My review headline is descriptive both of this film and of my reaction to it, because I am a bona fide "Juon Junkie" who was expecting this movie to be little more than a poorly done blatant rip-off of Shimizu Takashi's influential spookfest. Though I am forced to concede concerning the much too obviously lower production quality of this film, the storyline and the way it unfolds is in no way inferior to "Juon's" and is in fact on a par with, and I dare say in some instances even surpasses, what we were presented with in the "Juon" series. (I would have never imagined that I'd be espousing these words.) But before addressing this movie, I want to give a little background information along with some clarifications.

Despite the fact that no one seems to appreciate my efforts, I continue to persist in sharing what information I deem important in relation to numerous films which are now coming to us from East Asia; "Jurei" is definitely no exception and is in fact one of the 'best' and 'worst' examples.

Beginning with its title -- the film's original Japanese dual title is "jyurei gekijyouhan: kurojyurei," which translates into English as "Cursed Spirits, the Theatrical Edition: Black Cursed Spirits," hence, as alternately rendered, "JuRei the Movie: Kuro Jurei." This same film is also known as "Jurei the Movie 2."

(I can already hear the collective sigh of frustration going up: "Oh, hell! -- He's going to go into another of his long-winded explanations as to why the film titles are different and so confusing." You're absolutely correct -- so please skip past the rest of this review if you care nothing for gaining a deeper understanding into the history, background & intricacies of this movie and the series it was born out of.)

"Broadway Productions," a Tokyo company, has made something of a name for itself (and not always a 'good' one, quite frankly) as a major purveyor of low-budget horror (and, as some might say, of low-budget 'horrible'). They are particularly notable for the popular television series, "Noroi no Bideo" ("Cursed Video"), which also gave rise to two theatrical releases.

Broadway had also branched out into the 'direct-to-video' market with a V-Cinema series called "Jurei" (or "Julei" -- other romanized variations include "JuRei" "Ju-Rei" "JuLei" "Ju-Lei"). The series launched with a collection of documentary-style vignettes and was released under the title "Jurei: Shinrei ['new spirit'] Mystery File." The V-Cinema release and its two subsequent sequels were well-enough received to give rise to a theatrical version called "Jurei the Movie," which was then followed by -- oh, but you've guessed it already! :) While "Jurei" (the first theatrical movie) kept the same presentation format as its V-Cinema siblings (think "Creepshow" or the lesser known "Nightmares"), its theatrical sequel, "Jurei 2" (as I shall henceforth be referring to the current film throughout this review), retained the 'vignette' style of its predecessors, but it is the first in the series where the individual episodes are "interrelated" rather than self-contained independent stories.

In somewhat similar fashion of the "Juon" series, "Jurei 2" ties all of its episodes, or "chapters," together via an established timeline of events -- but whereas the timeline throughout the "Juon" series is arranged in a seemingly random and haphazard fashion, "Jurei 2" progressively works "in reverse," from the time we witness the "first" attack in "Chapter 10" through to the film's "conclusion" in the "Prologue." Yes, the concept is bizarre and sounds highly impractical & open to total predictability, but believe me, the concept works on so many different levels in this movie and is remarkably effective & engrossing (although I must admit that the final scene was just a little bit of a letdown -- I felt it needed just a tad bit more fleshing out & exposition, but it's nothing to get hung-up on).

An unexplained series of ghost attacks occur over the course of a single day (which causes me to interpret the chain of events as something that takes place on a sort of "seasonal" basis, rather than on the "on-going" basis which is suggested in the "Juon" series -- but this is just my own personal interpretation). Much like in "Juon," the spectral epidemic spreads in a virus-like fashion -- but it is not just some random plague killing indiscriminately, and yet at the same time there are no identifiable tangible vectors like the Saeki house in "Juon" or Sadako's cursed video tape in "Ring."

My biggest complaints about the film are in regard to what pretty much everyone will concur are the "blatant rip-offs" of other popular movies, particularly the "clicking noise" made by Saeki Kayako in the "Juon" series (which had a very specific meaning in Kayako's case because it was directly related to something we witnessed in the "Juon" universe, which helped to explain why Kayako was the only ghost in the "Juon" series the noise was associated with -- and, no, it's not the same reason they try to make you think it is in the Hollywood remake called "The Grudge"). And yet, despite the fact that it 'IS' such a rip-off, I'm shamed to admit that where I responded to "Kayako's" clicks & croaks as being little more than curious story elements, I actually get a physical reaction upon hearing these similar sounds emanating from the ghosts in "Jurei 2" -- don't ask me why that is, but it is unsettling enough that if I were to hear those same noises on a dark street somewhere I'd consider running very fast and not looking back.

There is also a scene which deliberately lifts a filming technique straight out of "Juon 2" (V-Cinema edition).

Actually, I can almost forgive the many similarities to (and "borrowed" elements from) the "Juon" series because there is a scene in the movie which I am sure is an overly-blatant homage to Shimizu-san's influential work, but it is a scene which also seems to clearly hint that the events taking place in the "Jurei 2" universe are all precursors to the events recounted in the "Juon" universe, thereby strongly suggesting that even though the ghost attacks between the two stories are different and separate from one another that both of these events may have actually taken place within the same "reality" -- and that's all I'm going to say about that!

Then, too, there is the Sadako-inspired "death mask" thing that was pulled right out of "Ring."

And this thing about grown women hiding under bed blankets is something I'm going to have to inquire about, because it is just so hokey and so overused in these Asian ghost stories that it may just wind up being another one of those "cultural" things we just don't get right away.

The only other complaint I can lay at this film is its low production quality. It hits you right away as the title sequence gives way to the opening scene: everything is overly dark, hazy, flickery and grainy -- you can't help but notice it (somewhat reminiscent of "Head Hunter," another 'good story; cheap production' for those of you familiar with this "Dead Alive Productions" release which is, sadly, no longer available on Amazon). But here's the big surprise: by the time you are about a fourth of the way through the movie it won't have been an issue to you at all -- in fact, you may very well find yourself "appreciating" the low photographic quality of the film, because as the events play themselves out on the screen and as you find yourself being drawn deeper into the story as it progresses, these qualities actually wind up giving the entire production a very haunting and surreal look & feel which seems to compliment its subject matter (can't quite say that about "Juon"). By the time the end credits begin to roll, you will not have even cared that you had just watched the entire film in "full screen" format! Even so, I still would have liked to have seen what director Shiraishi Kohji might have accomplished with just a little bit more of a budget to work with.

And there it is, from a hardened "Juonophile." If you really (and I mean "REALLY") liked/loved "Juon" (the complete 4-part series), I don't think you'll regret having added this title to your cool-lection."
Smooth-paced and scary
P. Schricker | 12/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A very traditional yurei story, Ju-Rei is similar in some respects to Ju-On, but the feel and pacing of the film was considerably better. It lacks the jumbled chaos of scene progression and un-tied loose ends of the earlier film... it's cleaner, and the end of the movie is more rewarding as you find out step by step the progression of the curse and at last, the cause. The 'corner of the eye' SFX and smoky, etherial qualities to the ghosts also put them above the simpler, less eerie ones in Ju-On, and I don't think I'll ever be able to watch Predator again without flinching, after hearing that.... noise!

I've watched a lot of horror movies... everything from the old B&W classics to today's. This is one of the creepiest, if not /the/ creepiest movie I've ever seen.
It made one of my friends screech like a girl and hide under his girlfriend. I can't make any better recommendation than that. ^___^

Don't watch it alone, especially if the fluorescents in your house are prone to flickering."
Much better than I'd expected
Sir Grand Citizen | Earth | 05/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"While I'm a big fan of (what has become known as) the current J-Horror film explosion, I've also found myself becoming somewhat jaded by the similarity of many of these films. The ghostly face, the scary noises, the crawling-on-the-floor.
And yet... Somehow this film works. Borrowing elements from many other well-known/successful recent Japanese horror films, JU REI: THE UNCANNY blends subtle scares and teasing atmospherics into a genuine creepfest.

Yes, it is filmed on DV (and thus has a look that can be dismissed as 'cheap') - however once the story grabs-hold, you won't even notice.

My favourite aspect of this film is the slow, creepy tempo... the director (editor) has wisely decided to let many scenes slowly unravel, holding onto shots for much longer than is expected, increasing the scares through the tension this stylistic-device creates. Viewers who lack patience, who demand MTV-styled editing, and who demand linear storylines may wish to stay-away from this film - they may not find the rewards their short attention-spans demand.

So terrible!
Mali | USA | 04/05/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Now usually, when some people say a movie is terrible, it can be a matter of opinion...after Ring Virus (korean Ringu remake)got some bad reviews I thought I'd see for myself and although some disturbing changes, this is not the case here.
Wow. This movie takes place backwards. You see the end first, then chapters are revealed in reverse and you realize "oh, the characters KNOW each other in some way!" I thought at first it was random characters random encounters with this weird ghost like mini stories and I almost turned it off..
Anyways, there are no surprises, everything is drawn out so long that you know what's next- just not the order! Most pathetic was the ghost and noises. Trying to remain neutral, but sounded just like The Grudge! When the show the ghost- she is crawling through the theater like she died right after watching The Grudge or The Grudge 2 of course. By chapter 1, I didn't care anymore why what was happening was happening!!
Avoid this.
I reccommend instead:
*The Grudge (Japanese OR American remake)
*The Eye (The Eye 10 (#3) was just released in theaters!)
*Ringu 2
*Rasen (ringu sequel)
*Ringu 0 Birthday (sad)
*Ring Virus
*One Missed Call (2 is out in Japan now!)