The latest entry in the Ju-On series comes with a title that could be considered false advertising. It’s called Ju-On: The Beginning of the End yet it’s not the “beginning” of anything, it’s simply the end. Hell, it’s beyond the end. Here are some alternative titles – Ju-On: Beating a Dead Horse (or dead cat, if you want to stay true to the Ju-On legacy) or Ju-On: The Greatest Hits.
Sadly, an opportunity to reinvigorate a J-horror mainstay has been wasted to regurgitate every Ju-on film we’ve seen to date. Furthermore, it’s disappointing to see writer-director Masayuki Ochiai deliver such a flat-looking film, especially considering he gave us the colorful and textured Infection many years back. He also gave us the Shutter remake, another slick production, but that was ultimately a weak effort.
Ju-On: The Beginning of the End is simply another by-the-numbers that – I’m venturing to guess – serves to reboot the series.
If you’re familiar with these films, you know they’re usually a string of vignettes, usually involving someone being attacked by the bloody Kayako or her pasty white son Toshio. The Beginning of the End carries that torch in a predictable fashion and fails to make an impact in any way. There was a time these vignettes ended with (literally) jaw-dropping moments that kept you on the edge of your seat. Here, in some instances, they timidly conclude with Toshio merely popping up to stare at someone. What happened to the balls on these films?
The primary story concerns a substitute teacher who goes full-time when another teacher passes away. Guess who her student is? Toshio. Well, he’s an absentee student, actually, and she begins to investigate what has happened to him. What she uncovers impacts not just her life, but her boyfriend, other students and some other folk. It’s a spiral of hatred and anger and, in case you didn’t pick up on this fact, Ochiai literally uses the “spiral” as a reoccurring image. And where previous films have focused on Kayako, this is really Toshio’s movie, but there’s nothing really scary about this little runt anymore.
Ju-On: The Beginning of the End could have been a creative way to celebrate the series and everything that made it work. This just feels like a cheap cash-in like many of the sequels that came out in the wake of the iconic original.
(The film made its international premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival.)