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Japanese Horror Visual Aesthetics

Takashi Shimizu

Director Takashi Shimizu

Who is Takashi Shimizu?

Takashi Shimizu is an influential Japanese director well-known for this ghost story films, including the smash hit Ju-On: The Grudge (2000) and following sequels, as well as the U.S. remakes The Grudge (2004) and The Grudge 2 (2006).  Shimizu's The Grudge narrative has been so successful that its recreations span over 20 years and it has been turned into books, a T.V. show, and a video game (Glasby, 2020).  Shimizu started his career in the early 90s where he was working  in a movie theater and writing movie scripts on the side. Eventually he was able to enroll in the Film School of Tokyo and met producer Taka Ichise. Together, they developed the idea for the Ju-on movie series ( 


Artist's depiction of a Japanese "Onryo".

Shimizu's Biggest Hit, Ju-On: The Grudge, and it's Folklore Origins

The Grudge is a story of an American nurse working in Tokyo who stumbles on a cursed home haunted by a vengeful spirit that holds a grudge that spreads to anyone who enters the home.  At its core, The Grudge franchise follows a familiar revenge ghost archetype that finds its roots in Japanese folklore.  These vengeful spirits or "Onryo” are spirits driven to revenge by a wrong done onto them in their mortal life. The Grudge franchise is a model twist on the “Onryo” folklore, as it follows an “Onryo” curse stalking modern day Japan.  Shimizu has been able to bring modern takes on Japanese folklore to millions of people across the globe.

Watch the Trailers: Ju-On: The Grudge  and the U.S. Remake The Grudge

The original Japanese trailer for The Grudge (2002) (with English Dub). (metadata link)

The U.S. remake of The Grudge (2004) trailer.  (metadata link)

In both the Japanese and U.S. verisons of The Grudge  the influence of Japanese folklore and the "Onryo" are easy seen. Both main characters are stalked by a ghost girl ("Kayako")  who has a rage filled curse to spread. 

On the Set of The Grudge 2  with Takashi Shimizu

Listen to colleagues describe Shimizu's horror vision for The Grudge 2 (2003). (metadata link)

Don't look under your sheets, a ghost might just sneak up on you. A film still from Shimizu's Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)

Mark Schilling's Take on Takashi Shimizu's U.S. Remake of The Grudge

Mark Schilling's 2004 reivew of Takashi Shimizu's U.S. remake The Grudge (2004) . 





In his 2005 review, Mark Schilling celebrates The Grudge for going back to the simple haunted ghost story roots that have been recently abandon by other J-Horror franchises. 

"The Grudge goes beyond the mechanics of its set-ups and scares to achieve a creepy sort of sadness" - Mark Schilling

Other Popular Horror Films by Takashi Shimizu