The Grudge (2020)

The Grudge
Director: Nicolas Pesce
Writer: Nicolas Pesce
Sequel to/Reboot of: The Grudge (2004)
Remake of: Ju-on (2002)
Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Demián Bichir, John Cho, Lin Shaye, Jacki Weaver, Frankie Faison, William Sadler, Tara Westwood, David Lawrence Brown, Zoe Fish, Betty Gilpin, John J. Hansen
Seen on: 16.1.2020

Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) just moved to the area with her son Burke (John J. Hansen). They are slowly getting settled, when Muldoon and her partner Goodman (Demián Bichir) are called to the site of a car accident that has remained undiscovered for a while. Their investigation leads them to a particular house that Goodman has come across in previous investigations and refuses to enter. Muldoon’s interest is piqued when she learns of the house’s history and Goodman’s refusal. She actually goes there and brings the curse that lies on it back out – like many families before her.

The Grudge is a mess of a film – and a boring one at that. Compared to Pesce’s last film Piercing and the Grudge films that came before (as I remember them at least), this one is, unfortunately, a disappointment.

The film poster showing a hand coming out of the back of Peter's (John Cho) head as he takes a shower.

I have to admit that it has been many years that I saw either of the first Grudge films (so many, in fact, that I don’t even have a review of them here on this blog) (I never saw any of the sequels), but I remember them as quite good or at least okay. Not outstanding, but decent. This version of the story is neither.

There are, I think, five different stories that are told in slices, chronology be damned. As I recall, that’s already how they went about things in the first films, but here all that jumping around meant that we didn’t get to spend enough time with any of the characters to really relate to them. And that things didn’t unfold chronologically also meant that the inescapability of the curse was clear from the start – and that hopelessness made the film definitely less interesting.

Peter (John Cho) is grabbed by ghostly hands as he leans over a bathtub.

I am also extremely uncomfortable with the racial/racist dynamics here. It was already bad enough when the USAmerican remake of the Japanese original meant that a bunch of white people get terrorized in Japan, but in this one, an Asian curse gets imported to the USA and infects (almost exclusively white) people there. It would have been better if they had alluded to the Japanese roots as a seperate occurrence – because Grudges can simply pop up anywhere.

And to add insult to injury: the film just wasn’t scary. In fact, I felt mostly bored by it, despite the excellent cast. John Cho is absolutely magnetic, but even he just isn’t enough to make this film work.

Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) screams.

Summarizing: skip it.

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