I've always been fussy about my taste in movies. Especially when it comes to horror/thriller films. I can watch bloody films all day long, I can sit through the Saw films or watch funny horror movies like Brain Dead or Dead Snow with no trouble. But as soon as any supernatural element (aka: ghost) is added I become the biggest wuss you ever met. I even got seriously scared at The Ring, which is usually considered pretty tame. I do not enjoy being scared at all!
Tonight me and my flatmate and his girlfriend decided to order pizza and watch movies. They went to the library to pick out a couple of DVDs while I decided to stay behind. They came back with two films. Battle Royale and Jo-on: The Grudge (the original Japanese version of The Grudge).
I knew I should have gone with them to choose.
Now, I've seen the American version of The Grudge with Sarah Michelle Gellar and it properly scared me - so badly that I barely slept for two nights, and that famous death rattle noise still makes my heart jump into my throat - even when I know its coming. I rarely regret watching a film, but that one, I'd gladly forget ever happened. So it is needless to say I was not looking forward to watching the Japanese version. I argued to watch that first, then the lighter Battle Royale second, or at least to have something light hearted afterwards - something I could focus on rather than that horrible noise and the girl creeping up on me in bed. However, I got overruled, so we put on Battle Royale and settled down to watch it.
I really enjoyed the film. Without trying to spoil any of it, the story is basically set in Japan in the future (the language is Japanese, but we had English subtitles). Kids have become a menace and are terrorising the adults lives, so the adults pass a revolutionary act called Battle Royale (BR). A class of 9th Grade kids are sent to an isolated island and forced to kill each other to survive the 3 days. Only one person can survive the 'game', and if more than one person lives at the end of the 3 days, everyone dies. Kill or be killed.
Despite the effects not being believable (very fake blood, and especially fake arterial spray) I thought the film was fantastic. Even the odd giggle when the 15year olds try to express how they feel - In the middle of dying they seem to like saying to their crush "I think you're really cool" or "You're cute". I think I'm going to watch this film again sometime.
Once BR had finished, we took a break and then sat down to watch Jo-on. I was really not looking forward to it.
Again, I don't want to give much away, and to be perfectly honest, I don't think it is possible to do so. With the American version, there is a straight, clear timeline, and an understandable story. You can easily relate to the main characters. Whereas this film switches between character viewpoints, without a clear indication of what part of the timeline you are supposed to be seeing.
It was still scary. That noise was present, and still raised the hairs on the back of my neck, there was a bit with a security guard which completely freaked me out - even though I knew it was coming, and I'm never going to cover my eyes with my hands and peek through them ever again. Despite all this though, I'd still recommend watching this version if you've seen (and enjoyed) the American one, as it has a broader look at the story - more characters, more victims, and more confusion - which all adds to the creepiness.
I do still think the American version was scarier in some ways. Maybe it was because I spent less time trying to figure out the storyline and more time focused on what was going to come around the corner next.
I looked up the timeline etc on Wikipedia, and I don't think I should have done so. Now that I know the storyline better it has become even scarier.
Forget sleep, and forget saving energy - I'm not gonna sleep a wink and I don't want to turn off the lights :-/
P.S. My flatmate decided it was a good idea to keep leaving a recording of that noise around to play when I'm in the room on my own. How cruel!!! I'm just gonna sit here all night with my back against the wall, all the lights on, and my eyes wide open, and if I hear any hint of that noise I will scream bloody murder and it serves him right if he gets woken up because of his damn prank....
(or gives me a heart attack for that matter)
Image by federico stevanin: FreeDigitalPhotos.net