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Ju-Rei 2: The Uncanny (Shiraishi Koji 2004)


Ju-Rei 2: Kuro Ju-Rei
[Ju-Rei: The Uncanny]

Genre: Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

Ju-Rei 2 is perhaps Broadway Production's scariest and most polished horror production to date. Although coming out less than a year after Ju-Rei, the difference in maturity and delivery is palpable. Ju-Rei 2 contains none of the comedic elements or goofiness which characterized the prequel. And whereas Ju-Rei consisted of three non-related horror stories, Ju-Rei 2 contains ten interrelated vignettes. The first vignette the audience sees is in fact the last vignette chronologically in the story. Thus each vignette brings the audience back one step toward the origin of the horror sequence. The vignettes overlap character appearances and are thematically linked through the presence and demonic influence of a Black Spirit.

Of the five versions of Ju-Lei/Ju-Rei, I've been able to get ahold of four and have reviewed each on this site. (I'm still hunting for Ju-Lei 2.) They are:

Ju-Lei: Shinrei Mystery File (2000)
Ju-Lei 2: Satsujin Genba no noroi (2000)
Ju-Lei 3: Noroi no Ekusosisto (2001)
Ju-Rei: The Movie (2003)
Ju-Rei 2: Kuro Jurei/The Uncanny (2004)

Although the storyline and scenarios are unique, those familiar with Juon and Ringu will find many similarities here. The temporal manipulation between vignettes comes straight out of Juon and Juon 2, as does the visual appearance of most of the (many) spirits in this film. Jurei 2 also has croaking, crawling, long-haired spirits which are undoubtedly reminiscent of Kayoko. And the frozen death masks of those coming face to face with the demonic look eerily similar to those in Ringu.

But Jurei 2 is not a complete knock-off and brings to the table quite a bit of its own contribution to the horror. It does a very good job of providing moments of terror where ghostly hands suddenly come out of nowhere to grab a victim or where, out of the corner of your eye, you notice a dark shadow standing beside you. And there is more than one Spirit haunting this story. In many cases, the demonic spirit of a victim terrorizes others in another vignette. What emerges then is a creepy, virus-like proliferation of ghostly encounters and untimely deaths. Although a similar notion was suggested in Juon, where the curse "spreads" to others, in that story Kayoko or Toshio were doing all the haunting. In Jurei 2, the number of malevolent spirits increases and thus so do the hauntings.

Jurei 2 was actually quite well made and thought through, which may be a first for a Broadway production. Director Shiraishi Kouji, who also directed Nihon Onnen Chizu for Broadway, clearly has his sites set on scaring the audience. Here, he utilizes (and borrows) some well-established horror elements and experiments which them within the famework of the ten interrelated vignettes. There are definitely several shocking and creepy moments, many of which are more effective than those found in Juon. Director Shiraishi's cinematics are polished and nuanced, and he does a very good job of balancing the power of the audience's imagination with sudden visual appearances of the ghoulies. This creative balance results in a pretty effective delivery of the terror factor.

Version reviewed: Unsubtitled VHS

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
Here, at last, is a very good Broadway production! Plenty of creepy cadavers and undead. One bludgeoning accompanied with twitching legs. Not even a wink. Interesting and effective (reverse) sequence of scary vignettes. The over-arching story is rather creepy and the notion of a demonic epidemic is delivered quite dramatically.

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