Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Alongside The Ring, Ju-On has been an endearing Japanese horror franchise that’s certainly stood the test of time. When it was announced Ju-On would be adapted to a Netflix series, the stakes were high to try and bring that same contained horror to the small screen. Despite a conscious effort to slash the run-time to six 30 minute episodes, Ju-On: Origins fails to capitalize on this and ultimately comes up short.
The problem with JU-ON: Origins is akin to asking what the problem is with a rollercoaster that only goes up. Throughout the 6 episodes it feels like the show is consistently waiting to pull the trigger and deliver some frightening scenes but by the end you look back in disappointment at an expectation that never comes to fruition. The series really suffers in hindsight because of this and it’s a particularly difficult pill to swallow becauset the show has a lot going for it.
A few of the episodes do well to keep a consistent underlying feel of dread ever-present and to be fair, there are a couple of nice scenes early on that look quite promising. Unfortunately this dread never manifests itself in the same way it does in shows like Marianne or Haunting Of Hill House and that’s a real shame.
The story to Ju-On: Origins takes place across multiple years, starting in 1988 and skipping forward to 1997. Across that timeline the series introduces numerous different characters, with paranormal researcher Yasuo the one constant who continues to investigate the cursed house whence the nightmares emanate from. This ironically happens to be the strongest part of the show as the various different victims the house consumes have little characterisation and oftentimes just feel like cannon fodder for the woman in white.
Speaking of which, the woman in white certainly makes her presence felt and the fractured whispers of the trademark croaking do crop up from time to time. Given the title of the series though, these moments are pretty infrequent. Instead, these pockets of horror are pushed to the wayside in favour of an investigative mystery that never really feels as satisfying or complete as it should do.
That’s something a lot of the show ultimately finds itself wrestling with and the proverbial slam to the mat comes in the wake of an ambiguous ending that doesn’t really resolve anything and leaves the door wide open for a possible second season.
Stylistically though there are a few noteworthy inclusions and the late-game flashbacks shot entirely in black and white are a nice touch and actually bring with it one pretty decent horror scene. I won’t spoil anything here but suffice to say the colours are used well to really heighten the tension. Unfortunately these creative moments are used sparingly through the series, much like the horror itself, and this gives Ju-On: Origins a much more pedestrian feel than it perhaps should.
Ju-On: Origins is just not a very good horror. It’s a show that feels lost between that dividing line of horror and mystery, failing to capitalize on its intriguing ideas to deliver a truly scary or noteworthy entry into the Ju-On universe. A shame for sure but the only thing scary about Origins is just how little horror there actually is here.