Ju-On: Origins episode 3 highlights the cyclical nature of abuse, of hurt people hurting people, as it continues to veer away from traditional horror in favor of something more grounded.
This recap of Ju-On: Origins season 1, episode 3 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Ju-On: Origins episode 3 perpetuates some very simple themes that have persisted all throughout the various iterations of this time-locked haunted-house tale: The first is that hurt people tend to hurt people; a self-sustaining cycle of abuse that is often inherited, victims born of victims. The second is the idea of circularity; the same figures, symbols, and patterns recurring again and again. In 1994, Kiyomi embodies both these things. A mother to a young boy named Toshiki, her partner abuses them both. And she’s still blighted by visions of the woman in white, seeing not a ghost but the past, much like how her son has inherited the legacy of her own mistreatment, her own actions, and trauma.
Ariyasu sees a victim in Kiyomi and displays empathy, something she has experienced little of in her life. This is a power perhaps stronger than evil, but it’s in such short supply you can never quite tell. Toshiki is destined to become an avatar of his inherited trauma in the same way kids always do in Ju-On; it’s never their fault, but they endure the brunt of the evil and eventually come to embody it in some way (Toshio is as enduring a horror character as has ever existed for precisely this reason.)
The house remains the root of it all since the house is a metaphor; a stand-in for sexual violence, for male dominance, for abuse and trauma. Those touched by it remain so forever. Haruka is still haunted by nightmares, traumatized by the loss of Tetsuya and how his fate links to the building itself, to many other fates it has also been tied to. But those touched by it are also drawn to each other, which is how Haruka finds herself among the crowd at one of Yasuo’s book events. The need to know the truth battles the knowledge that the truth brings death with it.
Ju-On: Origins season 1, episode 3 has few scares, which is becoming common, but also a pervading sense of sadness and inevitability. The links from past to present are becoming clearer, and the various figures involved are becoming closer. But they’re also re-treading common ideas as if they’re new, and the larger shape of events remains frustratingly unclear.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.