In Jumanji: The Next Level, the gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to rescue one of their own, the players will have to brave parts unknown from arid deserts to snowy mountains, to escape the world's most dangerous game.
Mehmet, being an idealistic man of principle, has decided to leave his job as an Imam to become a movie director. But now, he finds himself unable to raise the money he needs to fund his ... See full synopsis »
After a young housewife murders her family in her own house, a single mother and young detective tries to investigate and solve the case. Later, she discovers the house is cursed by a vengeful ghost that dooms those who enter it with a violent death. Now, she runs to save herself and her son from demonic spirits from the cursed house in her neighborhood.
The house's number in the film is 44, a reference to the original Ju-on short film 4444444444 (1998). 4 is also a number of bad luck in Japanese culture due to the number in Japanese specifically being a homophone for the character Shi, which means death. See more »
This played out like a soft reboot, similar to Rings (sequel from The Ring, which ignored The Ring Two). It clearly exists in the same universe as the previous three American releases, but with time between them and other characters into the mix (plus new audiences watching), it kind of throws elements at you that the previous films had. Therein lies the problem.
Although this may be the slightly superior film to Rings, it also was a less necessary sequel. When you look back at what you saw, you ask yourself how the pitch meeting went to green-lighting this installment. I mean, what was the lure that got them to say this was worthy? Rings happened to evolve and modernize its story in a very sensical manner, but The Grudge didn't really breathe new life... and when it tried to, it fell a little flat on its face.
I don't know how much money was thrown at this, but it felt a little too produced. A lot of it had to do with the fact that it was brought to the States. I know that little Asian ghost girl horror was so two decades ago, but having that traditional Japanese setting that stemmed from the Ju-On series (shot on a taller frame and on film) gave the previous movies a bit of a rawer, grittier chill factor that this one loses. Not to mention the way they edit the jump scares this time around is Rings-cheesy. They are by far the worst parts of the movie, sadly enough. Props for the R-rating and I think that was excellently used, but I don't think the tone matched the maturer audience that was watching it... as it still had a PG-13 feel to the scares.
The thing that I liked most about this movie though was the nonlinear storytelling. They borrowed this from The Grudge 2, although that was kind of a twist in that film that you were jumping different timelines. I liked it so much from that one that you really had to work hard in what you were watching, and all it had to take from this movie was removing the big white lettering telling the year that it was in on shots. The timelessness feel kind of became a theme to the movie, and I think if they made the audience work a little harder at it then it would have a nice full circle feeling to it. But alas, you are always reminded where you are at in the film, so it's not quite as fun. Nevertheless, it was a cool ride to flash back and forward, though it was all exposition vomit anyway. I could have allowed them to stretch the film another 15-20 minutes for more present day substance if they could have found a way to fill it, but for what it did I'd say it was okay.
The movie whimpers out at the end for me though, and that was really where I wish it had something else to say about the franchise's evolution when it plainly couldn't. I think that's where it hits its weakest stride. I can imagine sequels to this happening, but they just won't be as fun or freaky unless they return to Tokyo again and have Kayako and Toshio again, throwing less money at it and making it raw and gritty if they're able to. This is a skipper, even for die-hard Grudgies.
One last note: This movie has the intentionally funniest scene transition since Napoleon Dynamite's "It's a sledgehammer" moment. That alone was actually worth the price of admission.
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