Ju-On: Origins episode 2 continues its slow-burn approach and its focus on human rather than supernatural horror, but it still feels like it’s missing something.
This recap of Ju-On: Origins season 1, episode 2 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Ju-On: Origins episode 2 begins with an awful extended sequence in which several things happen, all of them presumably important. Kiyomi is brutally raped by Yudai, while the girls help to pin her down and take humiliating photographs of the experience. One of the girls, Mai, disappears after being lured away by strange noises. Kiyomi, stricken and traumatized, takes shelter in a closet with a black cat, and while she’s in there glimpses that woman in white with the dirty feet we saw in the previous episode’s only creepy scene.
I’m a stickler for length; I cover so much media that I’m always thankful for shorter runtimes and episode orders. I think most stories could stand to be tighter and more economical. But perhaps not this tight, or this economical, since the rate at which we’re churning through events here gives them no room to breathe. Character behavior in the immediate aftermath of traumatic events can make little sense. Yudai’s demeanor after raping Kiyomi is bizarre; it’s almost as if he doesn’t realize he has raped anyone.
Haruka is informed in Ju-On: Origins episode 2 that Tetsuya is dead. She encounters Yasuo again at the wake and is summoned inside by Tetsuya’s mother, who insists that Haruka glimpses Tetsuya one last time – his face is hideously contorted because of course it is, but the image isn’t a lasting one; it doesn’t, if we’re being frank, even look particularly real.
In large part, Ju-On has always been about how violence creates and breeds evil, but most specifically about violence committed against women and children, often by men. It’s a theme that persists already in this series, with Kiyomi passing her trauma forward to her abusive mother by compelling her own attacker to brutally murder her. The implication of a teacher, Takumi, in the crime helps to form a larger, more complicated picture of how this evil proliferates, but the directness of this development feels like evil is a game of tag, or the cooties, being passed along from one person to the next, each persuaded by unseen forces to act even more horrifically than they thought they were capable of.
This is the best idea that Ju-On: Origins season 1, episode 2 plays with; the one that works best within its trademark structure, and that feels most in-keeping with its established themes and perspective. This is unashamedly a slow-burning, character-driven mystery above and beyond a horror story, which is fine, but there’s still a little something that keeps these characters at a remove from the audience, and the horrors they both experience and commit detached from a reality that might be recognized as our own.