Eh, who cares?
Released way back in January (and, in fact, I think it may have been the first horror movie released in 2020), The Grudge is the latest film to tell the story of a house where ghosts compel inhabitant after inhabitant to kill themselves and their families. Look, we all know how it works. We’ve all seen Ju-on. We all know that it begins with someone dying while extremely angry or extremely sad and then a curse being passed on from person to person. The original Japanese films are frightening while the American versions tend to get bogged down in all of the usual horror clichés. We all know how these things work.
Anyway, this version of The Grudge takes place, for the most part, at 44 Reyburn Drive, where a number of people die over the course of the film. The Grudge is told in a nonlinear fashion, so we hope back and forth in time. We meet a lot of different people and sit through a lot of different stories but none of them are particularly interesting. Two real estate agents discover that their unborn child is going to have a rare genetic disorder. An elderly couple prepare for an assisted suicide. A nurse is haunted by the things that she saw while she was working in Japan. A detective obsesses on all of the murders. In the present day, another detective (Andrea Riseborough) tries to figure out why so many murders are connected to the house. It’s difficult to really get caught up in her investigation because we already know the answer.
It’s all pretty dull. Maybe if I had never seen any of the other Grudge films, I would have found this movie more interesting but The Grudge doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. All it really does is remind you of how formulaic the American version of franchise has always been. Of course, everyone’s going to die and, of course, there’s going to be a shock ending. (Interestingly enough, the international version has a different ending.) It’s all rather boring and it’s hard not to get annoyed that the film assembled a truly amazing cast and then basically didn’t anything with them. Consider some of the people in this film: Andrea Riseborough, Demian Bichir, John Cho, Betty Gilpin, Lin Shaye, Jacki Weaver, William Sadler, Frankie Faison. Wasting a cast with that much talent really does amount to cinematic malpractice. It seems like it should be an impossible mistake to make but The Grudge somehow manages to do it.
The film’s nonlinear format doesn’t add much to the story. I mean, you know everyone’s going to die eventually so having the story told in random chunks and pieces doesn’t really add any sort of suspense. One could argue that the film does deserve some credit for being as dark as it is. I mean, it does kill the type of sympathetic characters who, normally, would survive other horror films. But, even with that in mind, it’s all just kind of boring. I don’t hold a grudge against anyone for trying to reboot the franchise but this film just doesn’t bring anything new to the table.