Film / Ju-on
Note: This page is for the Japanese franchise only. For the American series, see The Grudge.Ju-on
is a Japanese horror film series, directed by Takashi Shimizu
. There are currently nine films in the series, including a crossover film, as well as two short films (Katasumi
/In A Corner
), which were released prior to the first film (and are featured on the Director's Cut DVD release of the first remake
as special features).
The title of the films translates roughly to "Curse Grudge". The first two films in the series were so-called V-Cinema, or made for TV releases
, but became surprise hits
as the result of favourable word of mouth. The curse of the title, ju-on, is one which takes on a life of its own and seeks new victims. Anyone who encounters a ghost killed by the curse is killed himself and the curse is able to be spread to other areas.
The plot focuses on the curse created in a house in Tokyo when Takeo Saeki, convinced that his wife Kayako was having an affair with her crush, murdered her, their son Toshio and Toshio's pet cat, Mar, in a jealous rage. Takeo was later killed by the vengeful spirit of his wife. The spirits now haunt the house, cursing anyone who dare enter - and, by extension, anyone who is even remotely connected to those who have entered the house.
The plot of each film is told in a series of non-linear storylines
, with many intersecting subplots.
Following the success of the two TV movies, screenwriter Hiroshi Takahashi helped Shimizu develop Ju-on
as a theatrical feature. The resulting film, Ju-on: The Grudge
, was released in 2003. Shortly after, the US remake rights
were purchased, with Shimizu himself attached to direct. A sequel, Ju-on: The Grudge 2
, was released later that year. In 2004, the US remake, The Grudge
, was released.
In 2009, two new Ju-on
films were released simultaneously, to celebrate the franchise's 10th anniversary. These are Ju-on: Shiroi Roujo
and Ju-on: Kuroi Shoujo
. These films are not directly connected to the previous installments, instead focusing on different ju-on curses.
The franchise was rebooted in 2014 with the release of Ju-on: The Beginning of the End
, which alters much of the background story. Shimizu did not have a hand in the production, nor did Mrs. Takako Fuji as Kayako, who was replaced by Misaki Saisho
. It was followed in 2015 with the release of Ju:on: The Final
, which, as the name suggests, serves as the franchise's Grand Finale
. A crossover with The Ring
series was released in 2016.
There is also a novel adaption of the movies, as well as two manga volumes based on the series.The films:
- Ju-on (aka Ju-on: The Curse) - the first V-Cinema release.
- Ju-on 2 (aka Ju-on: The Curse 2) - the second V-Cinema release.
- Ju-on (aka Ju-on: The Grudge, aka Ju-on 3) - the first theatrical release.
- Ju-on 2 (aka Ju-on: The Grudge 2, aka Ju-on 4) - the second theatrical release.
- Ju-on: Shiroi Roujo (aka Ju-on: White Ghost) - one of the two spin-off sequels released to celebrate the series' 10th anniversary. The film has no connection to the rest of the series, following its own storyline.
- Ju-on: Kuroi Shoujo (aka Ju-on: Black Ghost) - the second of the spin-off sequels, following its own storyline and being connected to White Ghost.
- Ju-on: Owari no Hajimari (aka Ju-on: Beginning of the End) - the 2014 addition to the franchise and its Continuity Reboot.
- Ju-on: The Final - Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The series came to an end with this 2015 film. Or did it?
- Sadako vs. Kayako - You read that right. Our two ghostly ladies with the penchant for killing people will finally meet and show off their powers to those poor humans. First teased as an April Fools' Joke, but later turned out to be real. Released in 2016.
It is worth noting that the theatrical releases are not
remakes of the V-Cinema films, as is commonly believed, but are, in fact, sequels. The first two films, which are quite hard to find outside of Japan, do not have to be seen to understand the later two films, however.The shorts:
- Katasumi (aka In A Corner) - marks the first appearance of Kayako.
- 4444444444 - marks the first appearance of Toshio.
These shorts are set during the first movie, and offer a little more insight into the incidents surrounding certain characters from that film.
In 2009, feelplus developed a Wii
game based on the franchise known in the US as Ju-on: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator
. Storyline-wise, it is unconnected to any of the films or shorts, and it tells an original story about a family of four who find themselves facing Kayako and Toshio's curse in an episodic fashion.Not to be confused with Ju-Rei
, a different Japanese supernatural horror film that shamelessly rips off this franchise
Provides Examples Of:
- Abandoned Hospital: Episode two of Ju-on: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator literally uses the trope name, although it would be more aptly called a deserted hospital. Still, some scares courtesy of Kayako and Toshio are on-hand.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Kayako, Toshio, and his cat all fall under this trope despite what terrifying monsters they became. Subverted in the last two film reboots, though, where they became...much less sympathetic (and Takeo becomes more sympathetic).
- This extends to the antagonists of White Ghost and Black Ghost, the little girl Mirai murdered by her possessed uncle, and the absorbed twin of Black Ghost's central character.
- The Alcoholic: Kobayashi may or may not be one. Kayako claims, in her diary, that Kobayashi drinks too much and that she once witnessed him throw up in the street.
- All There in the Manual: You won't know what happens to Tsuyoshi unless you've seen the 4444444444 short. Likewise, you won't know what happens to Kanna's friend Hisayo (who is mentioned, but not seen, in the first movie), unless you've seen the Katasumi short.
- Anachronic Order: The story of every movie is told in a non-chronological order.
- And I Must Scream: The fate of every single person who is taken by the curse.
- Anyone Can Die: More like everyone will die.
- Apocalypse How: Heavily implied to be happening at the end of the third movie... although, since only shots of Tokyo are shown, it is unknown if the curse has spread further or not. Also, given the Anachronic Order of the series, it is unknown just how far into the future this scene is.
- Apocalypse Maiden: Kayako, quite possibly.
- Asshole Victim: Takeo ends up as one of the curse's earliest victims.
- Ax-Crazy: Takeo's a rather jealous sort of chap, can't you tell?
- Justified in the reboots. Toshio's really not his son, after all.
- Bedmate Reveal: Played for horror when Kayako appears in Hitomi's bed.
- Big Bad: Kayako, with Toshio serving as her Dragon.
- In the reboots, their roles are reversed.
- White Ghost and Black Ghost each have separate ones since their stories are unrelated to the Saeki family. Mirai serves as one in the former, while Fukie's Evil Twin does the job in the latter.
- Big Little Sister: Yui is noticeably taller than her older sister, Mai. Midori to Yayoi, too, but that's because the middle school-aged Yayoi had died when Midori was still a toddler, so we didn't get to see her fully grow up.
- Big Sister Instinct: Mai will stop at nothing in search for her missing sister, Yui. Even when Kyosuke already tells her to get off the Nerima house case as far as she can.
- Bittersweet Ending: White Ghost has one, probably the only time where at least one of our main protagonists come out of the hauntings relatively unscathed. Our leading lady (girl?), Akane, is haunted by her guilt of letting her childhood friend, Mirai, be abused and murdered horrifically by her uncle. At the end, Akane apologizes to Mirai, and the latter in turn leaves her bear keychain before disappearing for good, having forgiven her. She doesn't want to kill her friend after all. Warm feelings...
- Blood Is the New Black: Kayako is frequently seen drenched in blood.
- Body Horror: Kanna in the first movie (she loses her lower jaw), and Kyoko in the fourth... when Kayako emerges from her womb. Also occurs briefly towards the end of the third movie when Rika has a vision of Kayako tearing her way out of her chest.
- Body Surf: Toshio in the reboots, is revealed to have this.
- Break the Cutie: Most of the characters, but particularly Rika, Izumi and Chiharu.
- Broken Smile: Izumi (combined with a healthy dosage of Slasher Smile), during her Freak Out!.
- But I Can't Be Pregnant!: A version of this trope occurs in the novel - prior to the Saeki murders, Takeo and Kayako are trying for another child, but, no matter how hard they try, Kayako cannot get pregnant. So, Takeo goes to the doctor... only to be told that he has a low sperm count. Given his jealous and insecure nature, this is one of the things that drives him to believe that Toshio is not his son. The fact that it is possible to concieve a child with a low sperm count (though it is rare) apparently doesn't occur to him. Then again, he isn't really thinking rationally at his point. This plot is recycled in The Beginning of The End, except this time, he's right.
- A much more disturbing version of this trope occurs in the fourth movie. At the beginning of the film, Kyoko and Masashi are involved in a car crash (thanks to Toshio's little visit) which causes Kyoko to miscarry their child. Later on, however, her doctor assures her of a healthy pregnancy, which understandably causes her some confusion. She later gives birth... to a reborn Kayako.
- The Cameo: Toshio has brief appearances in both White Ghost and Black Ghost.
- Cats Are Mean: Justified, given that said cat is a part of the curse.
- Cat Scare: Literally, considering that Toshio's pet cat, Mar, is also part of the curse. He often pops out for the occasional scare.
- Played with in the first TV movie, where toy cats are staring at Yuki. She is so creeped out that she has to turn the toys away, but it looks like they were moved to look at her.
- Ceiling Corpse: A variation in The Final. Midori gets her sister throw her upwards so hard that her head gets stuck in the ceiling.
- Changing of the Guard: The protagonist of The Final is Mai, the older sister of Yui, the protagonist of its preceding film, The Beginning of the End.
- Clingy Jealous Guy: In the novel, Takeo, before he became a full-blown Green-Eyed Monster.
- Continuity Nod: The "feeding the rabbits at school" incident present in the short film Katasumi is referenced in the first TV movie. In the same movie, Mizuho finds the mysterious mobile phone left behind by Tsuyoshi in the other short film, 4444444444.
- Also, in the first movie, Takeo's death is shown when Kayako's ghost claims him on the street. In the third and fourth movies, the fact that his body was discovered on the street is mentioned.
- In the fourth movie, Keisuke discovers several letters addressed to "Tokunaga" inside the Nerima house. Those letters are in fact the same ones that Kazumi took from the mailbox in the third film. Since almost a decade has passed between the two films (evidenced by the appearance of Chiharu, who's Izumi's high school friend), either they're the product of the house's time-travel thingy or people are just too afraid to enter the house and remove the letters.
- Cradling Your Kill: Kayako does this to Nobuyuki in the second film.
- Creator Cameo: Well, sort of. Kayako's death rattles are provided by Takashi Shimizu.
- Creepy Child: Toshio. Enough said.
- Also, the reincarnated child-form of Kayako/child who is possessed by Kayako (it's never made exactly clear) at the end of the second theatrical movie.
- In Black Ghost, there's something...off about Fukie, even before her Evil Twin takes over. Once the latter event happens, well, the creepiness turns Up to Eleven.
- In The Final, there's Ena, who's like Fukie v.2, from having psychic powers, to not talking much, and, eventually, becoming possessed by a spirit.
- Creepy Monotone: Toshio speaks like this, on the very few occasions that he is heard to speak. Kayako's soft "Kobayashi-kun..." towards the end of the first film also borders on this trope.
- In the reboots, Kayako wasn't always like this. Post-mortem Kayako will speak like this whenever others are lucky enough to meet her in her human form. In contrast, while in pre-mortem, Kayako's a certified Genki Girl.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: The death of Kanna, though offscreen, is pretty horrific - but it's somehow even worse in the manga. Seriously, having a bunch of possessed cats ripping your jaw from your face has got to suck. And they don't even use their claws.
- Kayako's death. Not only does she have her neck broken by her own husband, she also has to endure being left paralysed in a plastic sack for an unknown (to the audience) amount of time before said husband returns with a utility knife... (By extension, Rika's death also counts.)
- Hisayo's death, also offscreen, also counts. Although her body is never shown (the only thing the audience gets to see is a bloodstained blanket covering a ghastly, misshapen lump), it is mentioned that she was found dismembered, and appears to have been "twisted and torn by some unnatural force".
- Reo in The Final. Kayako breaks her spine by slowly moving her downward.
- Curiosity Killed the Cast: Played with. While going into the house will definitely curse you, simply unknowingly going into an area where the curse has spread to, or interacting with a cursed individual will also curse you.
- Cute Kitten: Averted in the case of Mar.
- Cute Monster Girl: Kayako. Toshio, too, though he's more on the adorable side (he's about 6, mind you).
- Darkness Equals Death: Although a lot of the deaths happen in bright daylight, some occur in (of course) the attic of the house, and in assorted dark rooms. In addition to that, the curse also seems able to cause electric lights to suddenly stop working (perhaps the creepiest example of this is in Yuki's segment in the first movie).
- Daylight Horror: A lot of the scarier scenes happen in the daytime.
- Death by Childbirth: Averted in the sense that it isn't the mother who dies... just everybody who happens to witness the birth at the time.
- Death by Falling Over: Kyoko Harase, although in her case it definitely wasn't an accidental death.
- Death by Looking Up: Played with during Kobayashi's death scene - he doesn't die from anything falling on him, but he does die after he looks up and sees Kayako staring down at him, and she moves in for the kill with freakish speed.
- Demonic Possession: Kayako, Takeo, and Toshio are all capable of this.
- Atsushi Isobe is implied to have been possessed in White Ghost, causing him to sexually abuse his niece Mirai and then murder his family.
- Demoted to Extra: Of all people, Kayako gets much less screen time in The Beginning of the End, mainly because Toshio takes over her usual role as the Big Bad. She only appears once in her ghost form at the end, helping Toshio corner Yui, and doesn't kill anyone in the film.
- She's finally promoted to be more villainlike in The Final. Sure, she's still not the Big Bad, but at least she gets to rack up several kills, including the last one.
- Die Laughing: Kayako in the seventh film. Laughing while having her neck snapped, yeah.
- Dirty Old Man: Subverted - it initially looks as though Saitô (the old man in the wheelchair) is perving over Rika's ass - until it is revealed that he is playing "peekaboo" with what appears to be thin air...
- Downer Ending: Every. Single. Installment. Except for White Ghost, which is more bittersweet (see above), and The Beginning of the End, which is... puzzling (see below).
- Ju-on: The Curse - Kobayashi loses both his wife and unborn daughter to Takeo and soon gets killed by Kayako. The entire Murakami family, except for the father, plus Yuki, succumb to the curse. The house is having a new owner, whose seller's paranormal sister, Kyoko, senses that they will eventually fall to the curse as well.
- Ju-on: The Curse 2 - The entire Suzuki family (Kyoko, Tatsuya, their parents, Tatsuya's son Nobuyuki) are killed by the curse. The curse also claims two survivors from the previous film: Kamio and Yoshikawa (and his wife).
- Ju-on: The Grudge - The entire Tokunaga family perishes to the curse, and what is left of the Toyama family is the wife, who has to watch both her husband and daughter going mad before their eventual death by the curse. Oh, and Rika is destined to play the curse, too - after she has died, of course.
- Ju-on: The Grudge 2 - Everyone in the set meets their doom as soon as they step inside the house. Kyoko's husband commits suicide, while Kyoko herself gives birth to Kayako and becomes her servant before she gets offed as well.
- Ju-on: Black Ghost - Fukie's Evil Twin takes over her body and kills her aunt, Mariko (and her completely innocent husband and son), before getting killed by her mother, Kiwako, in a double suicide, which only worsens the curse, as this means that Fukie's twin now can roam free of her mortal body. She then proceeds to kill her nurse, Yuko, and the latter's neighbor, Tetsuya.
- And finally, Ju-on: The Final, where every other single main character, except for Kyosuke Takeda (who not only manages to live for over 10 years and counting after having first contacted the curse, but is able to warn the protagonists of it, futilely, of course) are killed, and the last shot of the film is our last protagonist, Mai, who can only watch helplessly as Kayako, now jawless (!) comes closer to her for her inevitable death. So yes, the series started and ended with a downer note, and indeed, there's no stopping of Kayako and Toshio once they're in to hunt you...
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Kayako and Toshio, obviously. Add that to most other dark-haired characters who are seen after becoming curse victims (such as Rika and Kanna).
- Elevator Snare: A supernatural example in the third film. Hitomi flees into the elevator of her apartment complex and rides it up... not noticing that Toshio is lurking on every single floor she passes.
- Everyone Went to College Together: Kayako attended college with Kobayashi and his future wife Manami.
- Even Creepy Dead Boys Love Their Mamas: Toshio to Kayako, especially in the first movie and the manga.
- Evil Laugh: Kayako, combined with Die Laughing in the seventh film, after Takeo found out that she has been lying to him about Toshio's parentage. Yes, Kayako.
- Evil Phone: Many a character receives a phone call, only to hear Kayako's death rattle or Toshio's meowing. The best example would probably be the sinister phone calls from the number "4444444444" in The Curse.
- Evil Twin: Fukie has one in Black Ghost.
- Evil Uncle: After becoming possessed in White Ghost, Mirai's previously kind, caring uncle Atsushi turns into a monster who starts sexually abusing her, before going on to brutally murder her and the rest of their family.
- Express Delivery: And how. Kyoko, who is nowhere near full-term, starts going into labour the moment she encounters Kayako for the first time. Also, given that it isn't made clear just how far into the future the end of the film is it is entirely possible that the child aged really fast thanks to the curse's influence, instead of ageing naturally - so the film could be set not too long after the birth, instead of several years.
- Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: In the fourth movie, the curse manages to impregnate Kyoko with Kayako (or a child possessed by her, at least).
- Face-Revealing Turn: Kanna.
- The Faceless: The face of Kyoko's child is never clearly shown.
- Facial Horror: Kanna missing her bottom jaw.
- Fan Disservice / Fanservice: The shower scene in the third movie is a combination of both. Replayed in the seventh film, courtesy of Yui.
- Fatal Family Photo: Jeez, Midori, do you really need to pull out a photo, just to establish to the audience that you're the younger sister of Yayoi? Because your sister's going to do the killing, real fast...
- Feminist Fantasy: Swap fantasy with horror and replace Action Girl with The Everyman. More than 80% of the characters are female, either as heroes, victims, and background characters, and the main villain is also a female. Male characters do take part a few times as protagonists (and one is a Greater-Scope Villain of the series), but even if they are, all films are headlined by the females (Kyoko in both The Curse and The Curse 2, Rika in The Grudge, Kyoko (no relation to the first) in The Grudge 2, Akane in White Ghost, Kiwako and Mariko in Black Ghost, Yui in The Beginning of the End, and Mai in The Final). All films of the series also passed The Bechdel Test. This seems to be a trend with J-Horrors in general.
- Fetus Terrible: Used in the fourth movie.
- Foreshadowing: Throughout the fourth movie, Toshio repeatedly shows himself to be placing his hand on Kyoko's stomach. When one takes the ending into account, it becomes chillingly obvious why.
- Not to mention the entire "Tomoka" vignette in the same movie. When the reason for the mysterious "banging" on her wall every night is revealed, it's downright horrifying.
- Chiharu's vignette from the same movie, too. The very beginning of it is an ominous, grainy, almost dreamlike POV sequence, accompanied by feminine breathing, as if it was being seen through the eyes of someone floating above the city and, ultimately, into the Saeki house. Now consider the mind-screwy reveal at the end of this vignette. The aforementioned POV sequence becomes Fridge Horror when one takes into account the very similar sequence that happens at the beginning of the film.
- The "wig room" scenes from the same movie. When Megumi arranges the wigs and starts brushing them, one of the wigs is suddenly much, much longer than it was when she first placed it on the mannequin - in fact, it is much the same length as Kayako's hair. Megumi doesn't become aware of this, and a little while later the wig is mysteriously back to its normal length. Of course, this is the same wig that Kayako shortly emerges from to kill Megumi.
- You might not notice due to the Jump Scare, but all of the deaths in The Beginning Of The End are done by a single person: Toshio. It's to show you who the real cause of the curse is.
- Four Is Death: "4444444444" is not a number you want to see on your cell phone.
- Freak Out!: Takeo has one of deadly proportions when he mistakenly believes Kayako to be having an affair and assumes that Toshio is not his biological son.
- Not to mention Izumi's equally frightening and heartbreaking one from the third movie.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Happens a lot in this series, most notably in the first film - the very first time Kayako is seen in ghost form is during the first scene with Kobayashi at the house, when Toshio is meowing behind him - when the scene cuts to a very brief shot of the house's exterior, Kayako can be seen walking onto the balcony. She is quite difficult to spot before the scene abruptly cuts out, not least because the viewer is most likely distracted by Toshio at this point.
- In the third movie, it is quite hard to spot just who Saitô is playing "peekaboo" with, unless you concentrate on the reflection in the glass door as he and Rika approach - turns out that Toshio's tagging along, too. He's only visible for about a second.
- Keen-eyed viewers will notice an ominous black shape in the mirror during the "wig room" scene in the fourth movie, which then silently moves behind the curtain when Megumi isn't looking.
- In the earlier scene in which Megumi returns to the house to collect something, it is quite difficult to spot the dark shape of Kayako sitting on the floor if you're watching the film on a TV with a low brightness setting.
- Also from the fourth movie: When Keisuke wakes up in the monitor room after unexpectedly dozing off in his seat, look behind him. He ducks his head down almost out of shot - nothing behind him. He moves his head back into shot and then leaves the room - and suddenly Kayako is standing right there. She is slightly out-of-focus and only visible for a couple of seconds.
- The fourth movie loves this trope. Another example can be seen near the beginning of Tomoka's vignette. When her drink suddenly tips onto her script, it appears as Kayako's blood-splattered journal for a couple of seconds.
- Frying Pan of Doom: Near the middle of the second movie.
- Full-Frontal Assault: In ghost form, Toshio is either this or he's wearing an underwear. It's played for creepiness, since he's a pale-white young boy.
- Gainax Ending: Ju-on: The Beginning of The End, oh so much. So after most of the main characters are killed, we're left to the main heroine, Yui, who's trapped by Kayako and Toshio in the house, only to suddenly wake up at her apartment, as if everything is just in her head. But then, she goes out and sees her boyfriend, his head still going the other way. Blam! That's how the movie ends.
- Genki Girl: The films have several.
- Tomoka. She's a presenter, after all. Her boyfriend, Noritaka, also has shades of this.
- In the reboots, believe it or not, Kayako! At least before her inability to have a child screwed her up and made her a mild Ax-Crazy.
- Ghostly Goals: The second type, though not by choice.
- Giggling Villain: In the one of the last shots of the series, Yui does this in front of Mai, shortly before she's fully consumed by Kayako.
- Go Out with a Smile: Kyoko Harase.
- Gorn: Mostly avoided, although Kanna's death counts - in spite of the obviously cheap special effects (justified, since that movie was made on a low budget), it still manages to be horribly unsettling.
- In the manga, her death and the events surrounding her are even worse - not only do we see her face start to rip, after she appears to her mother sans jaw, her mother becomes possessed. Later, when her husband returns home, he discovers that his now very-possessed wife is cooking a meal - made out of Kanna's now-dismembered body, with her jawless head lying on the table. To make matters even worse, Kanna's mother then starts chopping up her own arm while being completely and utterly nonchalant about the whole thing.
- Gratuitous Rape: Towards the end of the novel adaptation, Takeo inexplicably rapes Rika.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Yes, Kayako and Toshio might be the main villains, but what drove them to do this was because Takeo murdered them. He's dead shortly after the start of the series, courtesy of Kayako.
- In the reboots, Toshio Yamaga.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Takeo, and his jealousy is so great that it drives him to insanity and murder. Taken to more of an extreme in the novel, in which he even gets angry (though non-violently) when Kayako mentions that she likes a TV actor.
- Kayako also has shades of this - in her diary she expresses bitter jealousy towards Kobayashi's wife Manami, referring to her as "that bitch".
- Hand in the Hole
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Toyama, and later Izumi, suffer these after being exposed to the curse. Izumi's mother also becomes depressed and withdrawn after the death of her husband.
- Rika suffers one after she encounters Kayako for the first time - although her reaction afterwards could also be due to the fact that this is when Kayako's possession of her begins.
- Kyoko Suzuki also becomes completely insane after Takeo shows her how he murdered Manami, although her insanity is suggested to be a combination of this event and Demonic Possession.
- The other Kyoko shuts down for a while after the Toshio-induced car crash at the beginning of the fourth movie - understandable, since it puts Masashi in a coma and causes her miscarriage. Later, she shuts down mentally after giving birth to her horrific offspring - although this could also be interpreted as Demonic Possession (or perhaps both).
- Kobayashi just silently slumps to the ground in shock after Takeo kills Manami and their unborn child.
- Hot Teacher: Mariko from the third film and Yui from the seventh film (portrayed by a real-life glamour model, people). Kayako also certainly thinks that Kobayashi is one, although she had a crush on him long before he became a teacher.
- Housewife: Kayako (before she was murdered and became a really, really angry ghost, anyway).
- Impending Doom P.O.V. - Used to chilling effect in the first movie (the attic scene), and also at the beginning of the second theatrical movie (the car crash scene).
- Infant Immortality: Averted with Toshio, and with Manami and Kobayashi's unborn child. That's right, not even a fetus survives this series.
- Also averted with Mirai, who didn't get spared from having her head chopped off by a chainsaw. Fukie, too, except unconventionally ( her spirit gets expelled from her body, so she still kind off exists in this world).
- Jawbreaker: Kanna suffers this. Aoi too.
- Kayako sports this appearance as she is about to kill Mai at the end of the eighth film.
- Jerkass: The teacher from Mizuho's vignette.
- Jump Scare: Many and varied.
- Kick the Dog: Takeo's murder of Manami and subsequent removal of her unborn child, then the fact that he actually phoned Kobayashi to tell him what he'd done is a particularly extreme example.
- Kill 'em All: There is no way to escape the curse. It may kill some characters quickly, in some cases it may wait (in Rika's case, for years at a time), but it will eventually get them.
- Kill It with Fire: Toyama attempts to burn down the house in the third movie, but it doesn't work. Namely because he gets distracted by the curse's time distortion and then freaks out when he sees Kayako coming for him.
- Kill the Cutie: That is, kill all the cuties.
- Kiss of Death: While Kayako doesn't physically kiss him, Kobayashi's death has shades of this.
- Kubrick Stare: Katsuya, during his Demonic Possession.
- Laughing Mad: Takeo, at the end of his phone call to Kobayashi.
- Let's You and Him Fight: The premise of Sadako vs. Kayako. In order to save two girls, each cursed by one of the titular ghosts, a psychic plans on inciting both of them to fight each other, hoping that the resulting conflict will mutually expunge both curses.
- Licensed Game: The Wii game.
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- Made-for-TV Movie: The first two films.
- Mama Bear: The final film reveals another trait of Kayako: never ever try to hurt Toshio. Reo, or rather, her spine, sure learns her lesson the hard way. Sota, too.
- Marionette Motion: Kayako almost exclusively moves like this.
- Matchlight Danger Revelation: Yuki switching on her lighter in the attic in the first V-Cinema film. BAM.
- Meaningful Background Event: The elevator scene in the first theatrical movie. Also, the scene in the second theatrical movie, in which a haunting/past event plays out behind the oblivious Kyoko, depicting Kayako and Toshio in happier times.
- In Toshio's first scene in the first movie, while Kobayashi looks outside, meowing is heard. We see Toshio's face and it's clearly him doing the meowing.
- Mind Rape: In the second movie, Takeo does this to Kyoko Suzuki, driving her completely insane by forcing her watch what he did to Manami.
- Mind Screw: All of the films, but especially the fourth movie.
- In-universe, the curse itself loves to screw with the minds of its victims, both before and after killing them. (The case of Chiharu is a notable example.)
- Mirror Scare
- Neck Snap: It is a combination of this and being slashed with a knife that kills Kayako. Also happens to Rika at the end of the third movie.
- Toshio does this to Naoto in the seventh film.
- Never Found the Body: Toshio's body was never found - he just disappeared, much like several victims of the curse, who end up getting pulled into nowhere (such as Hitomi and Izumi).
- New House, New Problems: Woe betide anyone who moves into/enters the cursed house...
- To make matters worse, the curse is spread when those who have entered the house come into contact with those who have nothing whatsoever to do with the house. This is made explicit when the security guard from Hitomi's workplace is consumed by the curse.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In The Final, Kyosuke Takeda has finally managed to destroy the bewitched Saeki house, so the curse finally ends, right? Then a certain single mother has the bright idea to adopt Toshio, who then spreads the curse to his surroundings, transforming her house into another cursed house...
- Kiwako does this in Black Ghost, with her decision to kill Fukie's mortal body. No, it won't stop Fukie's twin rampage. It worsens it.
- Nightmare Sequence: Rika has one in the third movie (involving lots of cats).
- Not Me This Time: The deaths of the four teenagers in The Beginning of the End are caused by Toshio and only Toshio; Kayako doesn't come into the picture until a year after this incident happen.
- Nothing Is Scarier: A lot of the fear comes from the tension of knowing that a Jump Scare is about to happen... you just don't know exactly when.
- In The Grudge, you never see Takeo as he possesses Katsuya... you can only hear his breathing.
- In White Ghost, it is never explained what, exactly, is wrong with the mirror and how it was able to possess Atsushi.
- Off with His Head!: Poor Mirai...
- Offscreen Teleportation
- Oh, and X Dies: Due to the Anachronic Order of the series' chapters, Rika's death is mentioned in Izumi's chapter, quite a while before her death is even shown (her body is seen at the end of the third film). Mind you, since there is no known way to survive the curse, it's pretty much a Foregone Conclusion that she dies, but, still.
- Oh, Crap!: Takeo has a moment like this in the first film, when he realises that, just because his wife is dead, it isn't stopping her from exacting vengeance...
- In the third film, Rika has such a moment when she realises that Mariko is calling from the Saeki house. Later, she has another Oh, Crap! moment when Takeo is coming for her.
- Ominous Chanting: Used a few times in the soundtracks, to disturbing effect. Examples include the scene from the third when Rika first encounters Kayako (ignore the fact that the video title is "Ju-On 2"), and the scene from the fourth when Chiharu is completely losing her mind.
- Ominous Music Box Tune: Also used a few times in the soundtracks.
- Once More, with Clarity!: Third movie: After The Reveal that Rika has been possessed by Kayako, previous scenes featuring Kayako are played out again, except this time Kayako has been replaced with Rika in full Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl mode.
- One Steve Limit: Subverted. There are two characters called Kyoko in the franchise. The first (Kyoko Suzuki) appears in the first two movies, whilst the second one (Kyoko Harase) is the protagonist of the fourth. Subverted in Japanese, since the kanji spelling of their name is different (compare 響子 (Suzuki) and 京子 (Harase)).
- There are also two characters named Mariko, the first being Rika's friend in The Grudge, while the second is one of the protagonists of Black Ghost. This time, the kanji spelling of their name is the exact same (真理子).
- Orifice Invasion: In the manga version of the first movie, this is how Kanna meets her end, when a bunch of possessed cats leap into her mouth and tear her jaw off. (In the movie, it is never explained how she lost her jaw, but in the short film Katasumi/In A Corner, her ghost - with her jaw still intact, for some reason - is seen shortly after she is attacked by Kayako, revealing that she died at school.) Kanna having her jaw intact in Katasumi could signify that her friend Hisayo mutilated her face with her trowel in self defense after the film cut to black, and that it wasn't Kayako who did that to her.
- Our Ghosts Are Different
- Pater Familicide: The main plot is kicked off when Takeo kills Kayako, Toshio and Toshio's cat. Takeo himself later becomes one of the curse's earliest victims.
- Peekaboo Corpse: The discovery of Kayako's body in the first movie.
- Please Wake Up: Chiharu's friend Hiromi, when the former suddenly dies.
- Also happens when Kyoko discovers that her mother has died in her sleep.
- Done in The Final, when Mai discovers Sota lying dead in their apartment.
- P.O.V. Cam: The above-mentioned Impending Doom P.O.V. shots, a few non-deadly variants from Kayako's POV, and a few from Chiharu's POV in the fourth movie.
- Prehensile Hair: In the second theatrical film, Kayako uses her hair to hang Tomoka and Noritaka.
- Psychic Powers: Kyoko Suzuki possesses clairvoyance to a certain degree, something her brother takes advantage of when he wishes to sell the Saeki house. After being inside the house, she is understandably reluctant for him to sell it to anyone.
- Megumi of the fourth movie may or may not possess them, to a small degree, as she is able to tell that Kyoko is pregnant. She dismisses it as being "obvious to another woman", but the implication seems to be that she possesses some sort of mild psychic power.
- Ena in The Final. She is able to share her memories just by other people touching her.
- Psycho Strings: Used on a few occasions, most notably during Megumi's unfortunate demise.
- Psychological Horror
- The Reveal: In Ju-on: The Beginning of the End, holy shit:
- The curse didn't start with the Saeki murders. It began looooong before that, like a decade before the murders happened. It's not known whether murder was involved, or just a simple error like, oh, leaving your child to succumb to the heatwave?
- There are two Toshio. The first has the surname Yamaga, and he's the cause of the curse (the one dying in the aforementioned heatwave). The second is our one and only Toshio Saeki, who's a reincarnation of the former.
- Toshio really was not Takeo's son. Kayako, who's frustrated by her inability to have a child with Takeo, suddenly became pregnant one day (a security footage showed that Toshio Yamaga somehow went inside her womb). So Takeo's killing became kinda justified.
- More additions from The Final: Toshio has the ability to do Body Surf. By doing this, he managed to escape Takeo's rampage and after killing him, transferred to his old body to masquerade so someone could adopt him and thus spread the curse.
- Revisiting the Roots: White Ghost and Black Ghost look and feel a lot more like the first two made-for-TV films as opposed to the theatrical features, right down to utilising the same opening and closing theme tunes.
- Room Full of Crazy: After the curse leaves a drastic effect on her mental state, Izumi becomes a recluse, rarely leaving her bedroom, the windows of which she covers with newspaper, and keeps the curtains drawn. Repeated again in The Beginning of the End, with Rina.
- Also, when Kobayashi discovers Kayako's corpse, the room features a pile of cut-up family photographs, with Kayako's face removed from all of them.
- Say My Name: Happens quite a bit.
- Scream Discretion Shot: Kazumi lets out a terrified scream after following Toshio into an upstairs bedroom, and the viewer does get to see an extreme close-up of her screaming face, but nothing else.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog
- Shout-Out: The ending to the fourth movie (Where Kayako comes out of Kyoko's birth canal and slaughters the doctors), might be a homage to It's Alive.
- Shower of Angst: Rika takes one in the third movie. She isn't alone, however...
- Slasher Smile: Toshio in the first movie only. When shown a drawing of his parents early in the movie, he does manage a rather endearing little smile, but later on, when Mizuho encounters him... brrrr.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The third and fourth movies both end in a haunting and extremely melancholic fashion. That doesn't prevent the ending credits from having a couple of gentle pop songs at the end. (Admittedly, the songs are somewhat sad.)
- Spared by the Adaptation: Rika in the novel - but it is made clear that she's become possessed/influenced by the curse, which isn't much better.
- Spooky Photographs: In the school trip photos depicting Izumi and her friends, their eyes are covered by mysterious black smears.
- Stalker with a Crush: Kayako towards Kobayashi.
- Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Kayako. Rika ends up as one by the end of the third movie, as well. Averted in the case of Megumi, who, while seen as a ghost on several occasions, doesn't turn into an onryo. Also averted in the case of Kyoko's mother, who, for reasons unknown, appears as a non-malevolent spirit.
- Stylistic Suck: The Film Within a Film that Kyoko Harase is acting in.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Chiharu, one of Izumi's friends from the first theatrical film, is present in the following film, only to be killed off halfway through.
- Back in the VHS films, Kyoko, Tatsuya, and Yoshimi were originally introduced in The Curse. They all succumb to the curse in its sequel, The Curse 2. It's downplayed, since the two films were made to be a single story and were shot back-to-back, only Divided for Publication.
- Yui's fate was left ambiguous in The Beginning of the End, since all we see of her is waking up from her supposed dream to meet her still-decapitated boyfriend. Come The Final, and we see that she has indeed fallen to the curse, since Kayako is able to use her image to lure Mai so she can kill her.
- Suddenly Voiced: Downplayed. Kayako does talk once in The Curse to Toshio, but it's offscreen and not the focus of the scene, and she also narrates the diary that Kobayashi found in her room. In the last two reboot films, however, she is shown to hold full conversations with other, living characters, and the two films in general made her more human (but still murderous of course).
- Taking You with Me: Kiwako decides to commit suicide alongside her daughter, Fukie's mortal body, which contains her other daughter's spirit (Fukie's spirit having been expelled) to end her rampage. Unfortunately, it only succeeds in killing the mortal body, as her spirit is able to roam free.
- Tears of Blood: Kayako is sometimes seen with blood trickling out of her eyes, notably during her actual death. Rika also seems to be crying blood at the end of the third movie.
- Time Skip: In the third film, the "Izumi" and "Kayako" vignettes are set several years after the rest of the film. The fourth film is a bit more ambiguous if there is a Time Skip or not (see Express Delivery above).
- Done in White Ghost. The film is set in two different timelines, though it's quite easy to distinguish the stories. "Akane" and the epilogue is set a decade after the murders; everything else is set before or after the murders.
- Zigzagged in The Beginning of the End. The film is set in two different time periods: one set in 2004, and the other in 2014. A brief scene is also set in 1995. The vignettes constantly switch back and forth between the periods and which stories are set in which timeline are not fully explained until near the film's end.
- Time Travel: In a sense - the nature of the curse can cause the past, present and future to merge temporarily.
- Twist Ending: The third movie features one of these. It is revealed that Rika has, throughout most of the movie, been "possessed", of sorts, by Kayako, and is destined to suffer the same fate as Kayako and therefore "become" her, in a sense. (It's all a bit of a Mind Screw.) A similar ending is presented in the US remake sequel.
- Took a Level in Badass: Toshio in the reboots, big time. He single-handedly done all the killings in The Beginning of the End, and also racks up a good one in The Final, when he's primarily an annoyance in the original continuity. He also gains many more powers, including Body Surf. As expected of the true Big Bad.
- Twitchy Eye: Rika develops one after encountering Kayako for the first time, and it keeps twitching intermittently throughout the third film (usually whenever ghostly activity is going on around her). Word of God says that this is one of the signs that she has become possessed.
- Typecasting: In-universe examples: Kyoko, an actress primarily known for horror films, complains about being typecast as "the Queen of Horror" near the beginning of the fourth movie. Megumi also complains that she is always being cast as a ghost in TV productions, after playing one in one of Keisuke's TV shows.
- Vader Breath: Takeo's heavy, unsettling breathing can be heard in the third movie when he possesses Katsuya.
- Versus Title: Sadako vs. Kayako.
- The Voiceless: For the most part, the only sound Kayako makes is her death rattle, having had her neck broken and throat crushed before she died. There are a few exceptions, though: in the third movie she starts to emit agonised moans when approaching Rika, and, in the first movie, she can be heard having a faint conversation with Toshio, as well as speaking Kobayashi's name on a couple of occasions.
- The noise she makes might not even be her death rattle - it's the same sound as the clicking of the utility knife that killed her.
- Wham Moment: The ending of the third movie, in which Rika realises just what the curse has in store for her. The ending of the fourth movie, also counts, when it reveals the reason why Kyoko is still pregnant, and what - or rather who - she is pregnant with...
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The fourth film continues the story of Izumi's friend Chiharu, who was a minor character in the third film. However, what happened to Izumi's other friend, Miyuki, is a mystery.
- Why Did It Have To Be Cats: Yuki has an intense phobia of cats. Mar (Toshio's cat) uses this to his advantage.
- With Friends Like These...: The multiplayer component of Haunted House Simulator has the second player control the haunting to a limited degree.
- Woman in White: Kayako wears a simple white dress.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Kayako and Toshio.
- Yandere: Takeo is a rather Ax-Crazy one.
- Kayako towards Kobayashi.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Likely the reason Kyoko Harase is killed.