"Ju-On: Origins": The disturbing new Netflix series has what it takes to be a horror hit

“Ju-On: Origins” is the first Japanese Netflix horror series to appear, in which one of the most famous horror film series of all time is brought back to life. The result is not for the faint of heart and could still disappoint long-established fans.

With the less original but effective horror series “Spuk in Hill House” and “Marianne”, Netflix has recently been able to ensure great word of mouth. In contrast, the signs of “Ju-On: Origins”, the next potential horror success, gave little indication of good things. After all, the “Ju-On” or “The Grudge” saga has had its best years for a long time (DF reported). The US reboot that was screwed up and flopped at the box office earlier this year was the final death blow.

The horror series, which started in Japan in 2000, now comprises a total of 13 films. Netflix itself doesn’t seem to believe in the success of another sequel. After all, it is not even considered necessary to place the series prominently on the homepage of the platform. “Ju-On: Origins” is the best that the series has produced for years. The series shows the great potential of how the iconic haunted house story can be so timelessly creepy.

Back to the beginnings

So how to revive a subject that has long been lost in old narrative patterns? Well, by simply thinking about its roots. For repetition: we are in a haunted house in Tokyo, which has been haunted by revenge spirits since a crime. Anyone who gets lost in the house is caught in the deadly curse. “Ju-On: Origins” now jumps to the 80s and 90s and shows the early events in the horror house. Anyone who expects the misleading title “Origins” to be able to relive the famous birth of the curse will quickly be amazed. Sho Miyake’s mini series turns out to be a difficult to understand mystery, which leaves some question marks behind.

The familiar in a new light

Everything is actually there: the ghost woman, the pale child, crime, the dark house. And yet this new “Ju-On” entry feels different. Iconic elements and images are reinterpreted or simply ignored. Loyal fans of the series will likely be offended. In general, the material in this series has been largely freed from superficial ghost train effects.

Of course, it would have been easy to stage it again as a series of worn shocks, as was the case in the American “Grudge” adaptations. But the consequent final line comes at the right time! When “Ju-On” reveals its ghostly shapes, it is more reminiscent of the subtle horror of previous J horror successes such as “Pulse” or “Ringu”. Everything much less excited, darker, more targeted. The series shifts the focus to real horrors, the ghosts are only consistent brand marks that do not want to disappear anymore.

High blood tariff

The world is hell in “Ju-On”. Everything is doomed, family happiness gives way to cruelty in the next moment. The TV news runs in the background, here too only reports of catastrophes and crimes. In that ubiquity of death lies the smartest move in the series. The core of the template is consequently spun on. Perhaps these old haunted house stories are long outdated in their location. Violence and death are permanent (especially through new media). In “Ju-On: Origins” it is sometimes almost impossible to distinguish between the living and the dead. You can meet anytime, anywhere, as the branched narrative style clearly shows.

The series is then disturbingly graphic in its depictions of murder, rape and domestic violence. Among all the constructed secrecy, the content does not spend much more than said misanthropy, which you already know from the previous parts. Vigilant self-esteem has always been the big problem of the “Ju-On” series. Yes, since “Dark” at the latest, it has apparently been fashionable again to have viewers puzzled with notes and pens in front of the TV sets. But “Ju-On: Origins” seems to be more interested in the most complex nesting possible, rather than filling its actual plot and its sprawling figure ensemble with life.

Guesswork announced!

Instead of using the series format for the already episodic narrative structure, “Ju-On” with its almost three hours feels more like a single confusing film. The first “Ending Explained” videos shouldn’t be long in coming on YouTube! But does the untangled narrative threads really reveal more than the usual horror multiplication tables? Haunted houses are particularly well suited to depict world pain, breaking families, traumas and basic human fears. This is really no longer an innovation.

On the other hand, it is the same with the rituals of genre cinema. From time to time these formulas are needed to deal with the abyss. “Ju-On: Origins” shows his hauntings with a surprisingly serious drastic. In this respect, horror fans can be reassured: despite the helplessness that it causes, the stubborn creepy house tour cannot be denied an oppressive effect. The horror series successfully brings his exhausted franchise back from the realm of the dead with a clever staging. Although you are moderately smarter than before after the last episode. There is still something!

All six episodes of JU-ON: Origins have been available on Netflix since July 3.

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