Ju-On: The Beginning of the End is a pointless film, established as reboot to the franchise, but is a rinse-and-repeat reprisal of previous movies featuring all of the highlights thrown into one. This film follows the same traditional non-linear story structure with only two interweaving stories – a teacher ventures to the Saeki house to learn why Toshio hasn’t come to school recently, and a group of school girls dare each other to go into the house. As expected, the characters are cursed and systematically stalked, haunted and killed by the evil ghosts through unusual means.
I would like to say that the film is a reboot, but a poorly conceived one. Everything from the backstories to the haunted house are different, and Toshio gets an unusual new backstory. He is the ghost of a dead abused child who impregnated a desperate Kayako to be reborn into the world after being murdered previously, only to get killed again by his father.
The “grudge” that creates the curse comes out on a whim when Kayako tells Takeo their son isn’t his, causing him to go looney enough to murder his wife. He then microwaves the family cat. The original films had a sense of subtlety, atmosphere, and tension in it, but everything here is overblown and thrown in your face, and is extremely cheesy. I can’t take these scenes seriously when Takeo’s new actor emotes looks like he's got a hot chip in his mouth, and constantly mugs for the camera.
As I said a lot of stuff from the past films are included - the creepy diary from the fourth film, the broken off jaw from the first, a group of girls going into the house and being driven crazy. The acting is very sub-par and none of the characters develop beyond being anything more than idiots who are doomed to be die.
There is plenty of cheese in the film and downright hilarious moments that are meant to be scary. Cardboard boxes shudder and jump around. Toshio must've met Gozer from Ghostbusters at some point, as one girl is dragged into a fridge to her doom. And what new stuff the film brings to the table feels very out of place in the context of the Ju-On world. But, some of it has potential.
The teacher visits the house and seemingly finds Kayako alive, who is in a state of mourning, and we slowly but surely see her develop the traits of her iconic, groaning ghostly self. I think the only scene I liked that was effective, was the beginning where a cop, a social worker, and a documentarian go to the house and discover the murders.
The writing is average at best, but there is nothing to help you care for these characters like the previous films did. They all just one-dimensional and there to be scared and killed. The acting is something to behold too, either flat as a pancake or overacting. Did they hire these people off the street? The only character I can like is the cautious girl Nanami in the school clique but I’ve seen the same character a good five or so times now in this series.
There is an absolutely hilarious scene on the subway where she encounters the ghosts of her friends – two have extremely cheap makeup on them (one of which is missing her jaw) and Nanami’s reaction is less of a terrified scream but more of a mild yelp like someone just had a dog pee on their feet. Nanami crawls away only to come across her third friend who for some reason has become a giant. Then Nanami screams in terror…so a missing jaw is less terrifying than a giant?
And then right at the end, the film seems to remember it is a Ju-On film and introduces Kayako’s ghost in the last ten minutes. But they don’t even give us the traditional “Kayako crawls down the stairs” scene. Instead, she skips the stairs despite the build up, rise of music, and use of camera, then it just pans to the right revealing Kayako is upside-down on the ceiling. That’s a little bit of a creative change I suppose. Then she jumps out a door and chases the teacher up the stairs. Then Toshio implies he intends on impregnating the teacher to presumably spread the curse, only to reveal the whole thing is a dream.
But then it throws an extra “scare” into the last few seconds by having the teacher’s boyfriend come back from the dead, walking backwards towards her, with his face twisted round making him looked like a deformed Muppet. It is just hilarious and shows how messy and stupid this film is.
Ju-On: The Beginning of the End lives up to its title, letting me know this series is well past its creative days and should be canned – which the next film seems to be implying.