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The real-estate agent with the unfortunate assignment of finding unsuspecting owners for the Tokunaga home deserves a serious raise: Not only did the haunted house’s previous occupants—who blithely moved in after the last bunch fell victim to a gruesome murder/suicide—wind up dead before they’d even finished unpacking, but so did all their friends and family members who happened to stop by. Yet the prospective happy homeowners just keep lining up, and dropping dead, in writer-director Takashi Shimizu’s apparently unending series of supernatural thrillers. A big-budget remake of the two direct-to-video films that preceded it—and a preview of next week’s even bigger-budget Sarah Michelle Gellar–ized version, The Grudge—Ju-On suggests that the Tokunagas must have had cable, because the malevolent little specter released from a bedridden old woman’s packing-tape-sealed closet has obviously seen Hideo Nakata’s 1998 Japanese-horror trendsetter, Ringu. Either that, or crawling around on all fours with limbs splayed at near-impossible angles and sporting long, dark hair that hangs over its eyes until the requisite extreme close-up is all the rage among the Asian wraith community. Ditto for a confusingly complex story line, which in Ju-On’s case is aided by numerous jumps in chronology and apparent gaps in continuity. It’s a good thing, then, that Shimizu and his collaborators know how to command your full attention. The score is effectively ominous, the visuals remarkably creative even for this eye-popping genre (not a drop of blood spilt—by anything undead, at least), and the death rattles so absolutely chilling that they stick with you well past the credits. Best of all, those intrepid enough to mentally catalog the relationships among the film’s characters and reassemble its fractured time line are rewarded with a lucid, compelling narrative—proving that at least one version of Ju-On is more than a case of editing-room trickery and fanboy hype. This is the complete package, and unlike a two-bedroom, one-bath home with an angry spirit of vengeance included, an easy sell.—Matthew Borlik