Shimizu stated in an interview that the inspiration for Ju-On came from his own personal fears as a child, and from a Japanese dance group that would paint their nude bodies white and perform. Shimizu found the performance frightening and decided to "paint [his] ghosts white". He also mentioned that the rise in the number of domestic abuse cases emerging in Japan during production of his previous films gave him ideas about the origins of the story. The title of the Japanese films translates roughly to "Curse of Grudge", or more abstractly, a curse created due to an individual bearing a grudge against someone or something. The first two films in the series were so-called V-Cinema, or direct-to-video releases, but became surprise hits as the result of favorable word of mouth. Both films were shot in nine days and feature a story that is a variation on the classic haunted house theme, as well as a popular Japanese horror trope, the "vengeful ghost" (onryo). The titular curse, ju-on, is one which takes on a life of its own and seeks new victims. Anyone who encounters a ghost killed by the curse is killed themselves and the curse is able to be spread to other areas. Under very tight budgetary constraints, Shimizu's films garnered much acclaim from both critics and genre fans for their effective use of limited locations and eerie atmosphere to generate chills. Shimizu was at the same time perfectly willing to show his ghosts onscreen, in contrast to some directors who might choose only to hint at their appearance. But critics noted that Shimizu's minimalist approach to directing and storytelling—a necessary by-product of the production's limited overall resources—allows the films to retain their ability to unnerve viewers. Very few scenes in the movies are graphically bloody, making such scenes more disturbing when they occur.