Kayako Saeki (née Kawamata) is a fictional character from the Ju-on series of Japanese-horror movies and The Grudge trilogy of American remakes. She is played by actress Takako Fuji (except in The Grudge 3, where she was replaced by Aiko Horiuchi).
She was created by director Takashi Shimizu. She represents a popular antagonist in Japanese culture, the vengeful ghost (onryō). She is typically characterized by long dark hair covering her face, twisted movements with crunching neckbones and a haunting croaking sound from her mouth. She first appeared in Shimizu's short movie Katasumi and spends the whole Ju-On series haunting a house in Nerima, Japan. She is one of the fulfillers of the Ju-On curse, which states that when someone dies in a state of intense rage, those feelings remain at the death site and kill whoever it touches.
She was seen more recently in The Grudge 2 and will return in The Grudge 3, to be released direct-to-DVD in March 2009. She has proven to be a very popular character in horror cinema, having appeared in six films (with one more to be released) and one short.
History and OriginEdit
Kayako's origin story is outlined in Grudge 2. Kayako spends her childhood with her mother, an exorcist who uses her daughter to "eat" the evil spirits she drives away from her patients. This marks the child for the rest of her life, making her a target for gossip and cruelty. In a university, she meets Shunsuke Kobayashi (Peter Kirk in American versions), with whom she falls in love.
Years later, Kayako marries Takeo Saeki, the only person who understands and cares for her, and gives birth to a boy named Toshio. By now, Kobayashi is Toshio's teacher, and she falls in love with him again. She writes of her feelings for him in her journal.
One day, Takeo finds and reads her diary. He becomes obsessed with the idea that Kayako is cheating on him with his son's teacher - or worse, Toshio could not be his son, but Kobayashi's. When she gets home that day, he violently attacks her upstairs, pushing her against the wall. Toshio is in his bedroom drawing and heard the noise, and hides in his closet, frightened. Kayako tries to run away while Takeo chases her, but he pushes her down. She sprains her ankle, stumbles and falls, and has to go down their house stairs by crawling. After much effort she makes it to the front door, only to find Takeo was slowly walking behind her, watching her pain. He then snaps her neck and crushes her throat, takes her to their bedroom and puts her in a trash bag. Kayako is still alive, but paralyzed, capable only of her characteristic croaking noise. Takeo stares at her just sitting in a trash bag in the bedroom, then stabs her multiple times. Then he puts her in the attic through an attic door in the ceiling of their closet.
After that, Takeo kills Toshio by drowning him in the bathtub, before also drowning his pet cat in the same bathtub. He then runs to Kobayashi's house, killing the teacher's pregnant wife and putting her fetus in a sack. As he flies into a fit of rage on the street, Kayako appears as a ghost coming out from the garbage dumped nearby, and kills Takeo.
Some time later Kayako's body is found in the attic, Takeo's on the nearby street (his cause of death unknown to the police), and Toshio's in the closet.
Since that day, the ghosts of Kayako, Toshio and Takeo kill everyone who steps into Saeki's house. The cat, Mar, usually appears to forewarn any intruders of their impending doom. The curse is meant to repeat itself as an unending cycle, so every film features Kayako crawling down the stairs gurgling her now famous cackling sound, a death rattle, cracking her neck around and covered with blood.
Although she is usually heard emitting a croaking sound, Kayako is occasionally heard moaning instead - she is even heard speaking to Toshio (off-screen) after her death, albeit briefly, during the first Ju-on movie (and even more briefly during The Grudge, when she appears on the security monitor).
Differences between versionsEdit
Up until now, her past and childhood were unknown according to the Japanese movies, but is explained in The Grudge 2.
Her death is almost equal in both storylines, with the exception of the use of the utility knife to slash her, which only appears in Ju-on, due to American violence ratings. The whole scene of her crawling down the stairs, having her neck broken and being put in the attic are shown in the director's cut of The Grudge and parts of it are shown in the theatrical version.
In the Ju-on novel, Kayako's death is similar to the film versions. However, in the novel, she is first beaten and slashed by Takeo, before he ties her to the bedpost while continuing to torture her, until she eventually dies.
In the Japanese version, Kobayashi is claimed by Kayako during his visit to the house. As he watches her crawl down the stairs he backs up to the door which opens from behind him. She stands there, says his name, then comes down looking as if she is about to give him a kiss of death. When the angle changes Kayako is gone, Kobayashi is sitting there dead, and Toshio is still standing facing forward with a phone in his hand and his mouth open. In the US version, Peter kills himself by throwing himself over his balcony in front of his wife.
Takeo Saeki is found dead by hanging in The Grudge, similar to a scene of the series' second respective films, where Kayako appears in the ceiling of a room and, with her hair, strangled and hangs a couple. In the Japanese version he is killed by Kayako in a street at night, after killing Kobayashi's wife and unborn child. In the novel, he is killed when Kayako's ghost stabs him through the back with a knife.
In the Ju-on films, Kayako is almost covered head to toe in blood, but in the recent american versions she has a cleaner image.
In the Ju-On films, Kayako is 28 years old at the time of her death. In the Grudge films, she is 30 years old.
- Ghoul Power - Onryou in the Movies Japanzine By Jon Wilks