There are few things stronger than an angry woman. Takashi Shimizu knew that when he created the Ju-On films, giving horror fans everywhere - not just his native Japan - a female villain and horror icon to really fear. The "Ju-On" movies (the second being the most terrifying) were remade for English audiences (by the same director) with the "Grudge" films (the first being the best).
According to Japanese folklore, whenever a person dies in a state of terrible rage a curse is born that stays at the death site forever. Anyone who comes in contact with that spirit will die by its raging fury. Kayako represents that popular antagonist: the vengeful ghost (Onryō). She is typically characterized by long, dark hair covering her pale face, unsettling wide eyes, twisted movements, and a haunting death rattle.
As outlined in "The Grudge 2," Kayako married Takeo Saeki and had a son with him, Toshio. 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. When she gets home that day, he violently attacks her, pushing her against the wall. Toshio watches the violence which is occurring below through the banisters. Kayako tries to run away while Takeo chases her, but he pushes her down, spraining her ankle so she has to go down their house stairs by crawling. He then snaps her neck to a 90 degree angle 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 body in the far corner of the attic, through an attic door in the ceiling of their bedroom closet. After that, Takeo kills Toshio (a witness to the murder) by drowning him in the bathtub, before also drowning his pet cat, Mar, in the same bathtub. Since that day, the ghosts of Kayako and Toshio kill everyone who steps into the Saeki House (and anywhere the curse is transmitted). The cat, Mar, usually appears to forewarn any intruders of their impending doom, although the sight of that little boy is the most terrifying thing I have ever seen.
Kayako is one of the best female villains in the genre because we empathize with her - we can understand why her tormented spirit kills all it comes into contact with. This empathy makes her all the more terrifying. She is also one of the only real horror villains from Asian culture. Her appearance and disjointed movement became iconic the moment they were presented on-screen.
The character Kayako Saeki has appeared in over 7 films and 4 short films (three of which were compiled into one anthology) and continues to terrify audiences everywhere, as she will for generations to come, because the grudge that was born when she died is a never-ending loop of horrific sorrow.
Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. WiHM seeks to expose and break down social constructs and miscommunication between female professionals while simultaneously educating the public about discrimination and how they can assist the female gender in reaching equality.
More information can be found at: womeninhorrormonth.com