Ju-On: The Grudge - hands-on

There’s one thing we’ve recently learned from watching Japanese horror films: little girls with wet hair scare the crap out of us. We first came across this truism while watching the Western remake of The Ring, and the lesson was further reinforced when we saw The Grudge. Yes, it’s true - and a little embarrassing - but apparently, young pre-pubescent girls with unkempt hair tops serial murderers, flesh-eating aliens, homicidal maniacs, and clowns on our list of things that freak us out. So it was with some trepidation that we accepted an appointment to check out the latest build of AQ Interactive’s Ju-On: The Grudge for the Wii.

Above: Gah!

The game follows the premise of the film, The Grudge. As in the movie, the vicious murder of a Japanese housewife unleashes a horrific curse that inevitably spreads death and dismemberment to anyone who comes in contact with it. This spells bad news for Erika Yamada and her entire family, who find themselves in an unfortunate “tag: you’re it” situation. Billed as the Wii’s first “haunted house simulator,” The Grudge unravels the gruesome tale with a first-person account of each family member’s attempt to claw their way through creepy locations and stave off being eviscerated by evil for as long as possible.

Above: Don’t open that door Mrs. Yamada!

We recently spent some time with Mrs. Yamada and her trusty remote controlled flashlight, meandering around the abandoned hallways of the hospital she’d woken up in. The moody, cinematic vibe and exploration-heavy experience we encountered there makes the game feel very much like an interactive movie. Pointing the Wii Remote around directs your barely-effective flashlight to illuminate nearby objects. Ultra-simplistic controls let you move in the direction you’re pointing with by holding the B button. Holding down on the d-pad reverses your direction, but forget trying to turn around quickly. You really don’t want to see what’s lurking behind you anyway.

Above: A little girl makes a grown man scream like a little girl. We don’t know what to think about this game yet

The flashlight’s power drains over time, and the hunt for batteries is a requirement to staying amongst the living; run out of batteries and you die instantly. Visibility is severely limited, making the atmosphere extremely tense and oppressive. This was greatly amplified by the fact we were being stalked by a dead little girl who took delight in tormenting us from just beyond the reach of our flashlight – at least until she jumped out of the darkness and attempted to rip our face off in a controller flailing quick-time event. Though our brief time with The Grudge oozed creepiness, we’ll have to wait for its October release date to see if it has the power to truly scare our pants off.

Jul 14, 2009