Posts Tagged ‘domestic violence’

After the failure that was the Grudge reboot earlier this year (see my review here), I was hopeful after learning a television series based on the original Ju-On movies was going to be released in Japan. And it was being brought to America through Netflix. And as soon as I could, I sat down to watch all six episodes of JU-ON: Origins. After all, it was guaranteed to be better than the Grudge reboot, but would it be legitimately scary?

JU-ON: Origins begins with a paranormal researcher named Odajima appearing on a talk show with an idol who experienced supernatural happenings at her apartment after her boyfriend goes house-hunting for them. At the same time, a troubled high schooler named Kiyomi becomes involved with a mysterious house near her school. This and other events leads to many people’s lives becoming involved with the house, a house whose history is alive and kicking, and in the worst possible way.

While this series bears very little resemblance to the original story of the movies beyond a cursed house and several men questioning if they’re the father of the children they’re raising, it’s definitely a better horror story than the Grudge reboot. And even better, it’s freaking scary.

First off, the show does a great job of setting up a mystery. The characters spend their time running down multiple leads, each one leading to a new aspect of the haunting. And each new aspect seems to add more questions than it answers. But even better, there are a number of terrifying moments. There were quite a few moments, especially in the later episodes, where I was squirming in my seat. Anyone who gets to episode five will shiver every time they think of it.

I also liked how they incorporated famous tragedies from Japan’s recent history into the story. A lot of the major events of the story occur around the same time as the murder of Junko Furuta, the sarin gas attacks, and the Kobe child murders (which, by the way, are terrifying in their own rights). Almost as if to say the house’s evil has some sort of connection to those events.

And if you don’t like subtitles, there’s an English dub on Netflix, and it’s decent. The English dialogue matches very well with the Japanese lip movements, and there are some well-known anime voice actors in the series (I had a lot of fun making jokes about that in the calmer moments of the show). Though I am sad to say, that’s not Nicholas Cage voicing the main character Odajima, but a guy named Brock Powell doing a really good Nicholas Cage impression.

This scene! Oh God, I’m shivering again.

If there’s one thing I didn’t care for, it was that I would’ve liked to see more from the original films incorporated into the story. I’m not asking for a direct based-on-the-movie or Kayako and her son to fully appear on screen, but I would’ve enjoyed more references or incorporation of the original story that’s become so beloved by fans.

And just a trigger warning: this series delves into subjects such as domestic violence and sexual assault. So if that’s a turn-off, maybe don’t watch this one.

For everyone else, however, JU-ON: Origins is a terrifying TV show that will satisfy anyone else bored with more recent entries into the Ju-On and Grudge franchises. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving this show a 4.5. Head on home and settle in to watch it. Just make sure to watch with the lights on.

Also, if you go house hunting and the house has a history, make sure that it hasn’t harmed anyone in at least a decade before deciding it’s your dream home!

Mark and Debby Constantino. Courtesy of their website.

Recently I read something online that made me feel downright depressed and mournful. As you know, I’m a huge fan of the TV show Ghost Adventures and the people behind it. I feel they’re actually out to prove the existence of spirits and I find them inspirational for my own writing. Frequently they bring guests on the show, including other paranormal experts. Two of these experts were Mark and Debby Constantino, who specialized in electronic voice phenomena, or EVP examination.

This is where it gets sad: Earlier this week, the Constantinos died horrifically along with one other person. Apparently there had been a history of domestic violence in their marriage, including a prior kidnapping by Mr. Constantino, who had been estranged from his wife. This week, Mr. Constantino, who was out on bail, killed a man at the house his wife had been staying at, kidnapped her, and then later killed her and himself after a standoff with police. You can read the full story of this tragedy here, if you want to.

Since this has happened, I’ve seen a lot of reactions to what has happened. Obviously, there are a lot of people wishing condolences to the victims’ families and to the victims themselves, and there have been a lot of people talking about domestic violence, its devastating effects, and offering help or links for those who have been or are being abused. That’s good. We should mourn those who have been lost in situations like this while also recognizing that what has happened could’ve been prevented and working together to help make sure that incidents like this don’t become a regular occurrence.

However, some reactions I’ve seen to this actually made me feel rather worried and at time disturbed, and they are the reason I’m writing this post. One reaction that’s really upset me is that people are making jokes over the Constaninos’ deaths based on the fact that they were ghost hunters. Examples include “Now come back and show us that ghosts are real” and “They can still star on Ghost Adventures“. That’s just awful. There’s no joke you can make about a woman who was kidnapped from her home, maybe saw someone she knew die, and then was held hostage by someone she’d once loved, trusted, and had children with, only to be murdered by that person in the end. Doesn’t matter what they believed or thought, this was a tragedy, and you’re not being funny or cool by making a joke of it. Doesn’t matter that on the Internet you can be anybody you want to be either. All that’s happening is you’re cheapening someone’s early and awful death and you know it. And if you still don’t see anything wrong with that, then I’m not so sure I would like to associate with you.

Another reaction I’ve seen is that some people think this may have been a case of spirit or even demonic possession, that Mark and Debby Constantino were oppressed and ultimately influenced to die by something otherworldly. Now, I know that for those who believe (including me), a spirit can attach itself to a person or persons and make their lives miserable. However, I don’t think this is a case of demonic possession or something like that. Why? Because domestic abuse happens to uncounted numbers of people worldwide everyday, sometimes leading to the death of victims, few if any related to the supernatural. While it’s tempting to write off what happened in the Constantinos’ marriage to something extraordinary, in truth what happened is all too ordinary, even if it escalated to the point that it did.

And I know some of you will point to how the Constantinos seemed so normal on TV or at conventions. Plenty of people who are abused or abuse others are very good at presenting a happy, perfectly normal public image. It’s in the privacy of their homes that they show their true colors, because that’s the only place where they know they won’t be stared at because a loved one is hurting them. And many abusers are experienced in finding ways to carry out abuse in ways that won’t leave bruises or broken bones, which allows them to continue doing what they’re doing. Sometimes it’s not even physical, it can be completely verbal, financial or psychological. You never know who could be suffering inside.

And the only way to even make demonic influence more than just a wild guess is some sort of recorded proof from the Constantinos themselves that they were being oppressed, and I don’t think that exists. Even if it does, I doubt the family of the deceased would release that documentation. I think the family would prefer to be left alone to mourn, and not have to deal with people focusing on whatever they released, questioning its validity and the motive of those who released it.

Ultimately, the most logical, and the most difficult conclusion, is that the Constantinos had a troubled marriage, those troubles were too difficult for them to solve alone, and this was the terrible result of that. And in the wake of such a tragedy, the best thing we can do is offer help when it is asked for, and look for solutions to the worldwide epidemic of domestic violence, no matter what form it takes.

My condolences to the Constantinos and their loved ones, as well as their colleagues and many, many fans. I can only hope that we can all take positive steps in the wake of such dark events.

If you or a loved one has or is suffering domestic abuse and would like help, to know your rights, or even just to know what constitutes as abuse, you can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or visit their website at for more information. Or you can talk to a trusted teacher, counselor, clergy member, or even a friend or family member. Wherever you are, there is someone who can help you.

Thank you and the best of luck to you.