Friday, February 12, 2010

Female Villains in Horror: Kayako Saeki

Kayako is one helluva sinister ghost.

I mean, they named the whole movie after her ferocious need for revenge.
Deathly white with large dark eyes and long pitch black hair, she rivals only Samara as a eerie ghostly presence. If I'm being honest, I think Kayako is scarier. Maybe because she is an adult, with a huge grudge.

To make a long story short, Kayako was in love with Peter, an American. He was married, and found out all too late of her intense interest. When Kayako's husband finds out about her obsession with Peter, he kills her, their son, and the family cat in a fit of rage. (And while we're at it, what did the damn cat do to him anyway? Prick.)

Hence, according to the curse, every family or individual after that who comes in contact with the house of the victim finds themselves pursued by Kayako's frightening ghost. The brutal murder continues to manifest itself as Kayako finishes off every resident or visitor of the house, one after the other, including an entire family living there, and then a social worker, her boss, a cop, and Sarah Michelle Gellar's on-screen boyfriend (shame, that - Jason Behr is a honey).
The curse follows whomever has been inside the house or has come in contact with Kayako.
Even Peter, Kayako's pined-for and stalked crush, is touched by her curse. He flings himself out a window to his death.

The incessant jaw-clicking/death-rattle sound is really unnerving, and the way Kayako crawls down the steps in that jerky motion so famous in J-Horror films will get under your skin and dig around a bit.

Kayako is at her most terrifying, though, when she's shuffling down a hallway with a surveillance camera watching her, when she crawls up the bed under the covers, and when her face appears in that attic crawlspace.

Having never seen the original (Ju-On), I have no basis for comparison. But I think Takako Fuji does an excellent job as Kayako. All she really had to do is look into the camera and I was cringing.

The Grudge 2 doesn't lend anything new to the picture, but it can at least be tolerated.

It tells the story of Sarah Michelle Gellar's character's sister (played by Amber Tamblyn) coming to Japan to find out what happened to her and bring her home. Doesn't exactly go well.
The first time I saw it I was a bit baffled at the storyline, it almost seemed like two unrelated stories were being told. I guess they merged together at some point, but wow. Not the best.

As usual, the scariest parts of the film are when you see Kayako lurking somewhere unexpected. You see it, but the victim does not.

Part 2 is hokey and contrived, but the ghost is still damn creepy.

A word to the wise: absolutely forget the third one, it reeks of the stench of a thousand dying rats.

But the first one: good stuff.

Buy it here.

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The Shitty Astrologer said...

Both this one and the original "The Eye" were really good - they elevated films about the supernatural to a whole new level of scary.

La Morte Vivante said...

I did watch the remake of The Grudge, and - perhaps because I was aware that it was a literal remake, saw nothing extra in it - though I'm glad they used the same actress, someone I think is amazing!

Have you seen Kwaidan? - I think it's an good film in its own right, but it is interesting to see the origins of modern Japanese horror - including the idea of the vengeful supernatural female.

Anonymous said...

Actually Takako Fugi ahs played Kayako in th first seven movies.( The 5 Japanese and the first 2 english remakes)