The original grudge

When brainstorming the endless possibilities I might have pursued for this assignment, I found myself being quite overwhelmed. This was because there were so many unknown facets of the culture for me, and that I also couldn’t decide what interested me the most. I ended up revisiting my old friend; the horror movie. There was a time where going to blockbuster to pick a scary film proved rather difficult with me because I had seen them all! This was part of why I decided this would be a perfect topic of authoethnographic research for this project. Not only this, I discovered when I started going through the names of the movies I thought I had seen, I had not seen one original Japanese horror movie. I was planning to watch the original and compare it to the Hollywood remake, however I decided since I had already seen the Hollywood remakes (a long time ago), I would rather see whether I followed the plot as well as I did and decide which one translated horror the best. I only wanted to do one movie/franchise in the end because they’re all so different and it didn’t seem to make sense in comparing an entire genre. I settled on my favorite Ju On (2004), also known as The Grudge.


Fun fact: There is another movie from this franchise that was released last year called The Grudge: The Final Curse (2015). I learnt this when I accidentally downloaded that version instead of the original…

These were some of my initial thoughts when watching Ju On (2004) for the first time:

  • Language barrier/not in English
  • While there was a central storyline, there was no protagonist apart from the grudge herself
  • The movie was divided into chapters
  • The beginning was extremely graphic – I was not prepared
  • It was very difficult for me to identify relationships between characters as the body language and dialogue is quite different
  • The origin and meaning of the grudge was terribly explained in the end I thought. I ended up researching for quite a while to find what it was/if it was the same as the Hollywood version.

One of the hardest things for me to follow in this movie was the fragmented storyline. It took me a long time to figure out how the characters related to each other on their correlating storylines as well as what point in time on the storyline it was. I felt like it jumped back and forwards quite a bit. I really enjoy movies that challenge me to keep up, ensuring that I’m paying attention, but this was much more difficult. I struggled because I only realized about half way through the movie that the chapter titles were the names of the central characters of that chapter. This led me to begin piecing together the relationships and filling in holes within the chapter storyline with clues from other storylines.­

When it came time for the big reveal at the ending – a much anticipated explanation – I found myself severely unsatisfied. I think in this case, the over-explained American version answered a lot more of the questions I had and developed the storyline a little deeper than the original did. I felt like it ended up being quite repetitive in each chapter while still not giving any more info as to why the wife and her child terrorize anyone associated with the house. For my next blog post, I’ll be re-watching Ju On (2004) while trying to take it in at face value with a little more knowledge rather than as a foreign movie. This time around, assumptions I’ve made, things I wasn’t aware of, questions that remained unanswered and things I didn’t pick up on will be avoided and I’ll be able to critically analyse this text autoethnographically.

To revisit the concept of autoethnography, let’s bring up that juicy quote;

 “Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)” (Ellis et al. 2011).

To influence my methodology in my next post, I’ll be using this goodie, as well as texts from Christiane K Alsop and Leon Anderson to reference alternative autoethnographic literature. Alsop (p. 129, 2002) explores a theory of an individual leaving home to explore/travel and becoming an outsider in both ‘here’ and ‘there’ because they indirectly offend home by searching for something more and they are foreign in the new land. I wonder how this applies to different countries remaking movies and/or people preferring a cultural genre of film; such as Japanese Horror? Anderson (p. 380, 2006) outlines how ‘autoethnographers must orient … to documenting and analyzing as well as to purposely engaging in it’. I’ll be rewatching Ju-On (2004) for sure to guarantee I conduct the autoethnography in said manner correctly.



  • Alsop, Christiane K. (2002) Home and Away: Self Reflexive Auto-/Ethnography’, Forum Qualitative Social Research 3:3.
  • Anderson, Leon 2006, Analytic Autoethnography, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 373-393.
  • Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1.

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