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Urban Legends Translated Through Japanese Horror Films

2034 words - 9 pages

Japanese horror films are known for being incredibly spooky and leaving their audiences feeling unsettled. Perhaps it is the engaging plots or compelling acting, or maybe it is because these films are based on killers that many have already heard of. Films like Ju-On, Ringu, and A Slit-Mouthed Woman contain background information based on popular stories from long ago, which makes the films even more terrifying. While many horror films have no inspiration, Japanese horror films often draw influence from urban legends. Furthermore, these legends commonly focus on women as the central characters for the antagonist.
Initially, Ju-On begins with the story of Rika, a social worker going into a home to help an invalid old lady. However, upon entering the home, Rika soon learns that there are more problems in the house than neglect. After cleaning the woman, Rika begins to clean the rest of the house. Upon entering a bedroom she notices that the closet door is taped shut and discovers a little boy and his cat hidden in there. Rika calls her boss to report the child, but immediately afterwards the old woman begins talking nonsense. Seeing a shadow creep over the old woman, Rika faints and the woman is killed.
Viewers are then transported back in time a bit, as the film begins to focus on Kazumi, his wife, Katsuya, and his mother, Sachie, who viewers learn was also the elderly lady in the Rika short. After working a late day, Kazumi comes home to find his wife lying on a bed upstairs with her mouth open; she is in shock. He panics and attempts to call an ambulance, but before he has a chance, he sees the little boy that Rika let out of the closet, whose name we learn is Toshio. Kazumi cowers against a wall until a presences seems to take hold of him and his entire personality changes. He then kicks his sister out of the house telling her “now is a bad time” with no explanation.
Appropriately, this takes viewers into the story of Hitomi, Kazumi’s sister as she is trying to contact him after his odd behavior. She is leaving work when she begins to hear strange noises and stops into the restroom, but while in there she receives a call from her brother. When she answers the only noise she hears is rattling from Toshio, but it is not just coming from the phone, it is also coming from the stall beside of her. As she run out toward the security guards office, she loses a key chain of a teddy bear, which she later discovers in her bed as she is dragged under the covers.
This pattern of death continues throughout the film for three more shorts, involving Toyama, Izumi, and Kayako. After the film unfolds, we learn that Kayako and her son, Toshio were killed inside the cursed house by her husband Takeo. He believed she was having an affair with another man and became so enraged that he not only killed her, but mutilated her body and wrapped it in a plastic bag. At various points in the film Kayako appears as a shadow to take her victims, but typically she appears...

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