Movie Review: The Grudge (2020)

Hanging somewhere between a reboot, remake, sequel and simultaneous story to the 2004-2009 American trilogy, The Grudge (marketed in some places as The Grudge: The Untold Chapter) is a 2020 horror movie directed by Nicolas Pesce (who also directed the very difficult to watch but highly recommended The Eyes of my Mother). Taking place in a non-linear order, in 2006 Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) moves to a small Pennsylvania town and works with Detective Goodman (Demián Bichir) to solve a series of murders all involving the same house. The film also stars John Cho, Betty Gilpin, William Sadler, Lin Shaye, Frankie Faison and Jacki Weaver.

+ this is a real all star cast, who are almost all entirely wasted in bit parts of confusing scene orders. Riseborough, Sadler and Faison are all good, but the latter two are heavily underused (Faison, in particular, has shown incredible acting chops in Banshee and Luke Cage)

– I have no issues with non-linear storytelling in general, but it was done poorly here. Unlike, for example, The Witcher, characters/events are given little to no introduction before we are suddenly seeing them occur in real time, causing me to have to pause it at one point just to double check I was no going crazy
– put simply, there are just far too many jump scares. That sucks at the best of times, but because there are a handful of such good horror moments, it makes the ‘sudden scary face and loud noise’ moments so much more grating. Worse still is there are no surprises, and you can almost count down to every single scare
– maybe I entirely misunderstood the advertising, but I thought this was ‘John Cho stars in a reboot of The Grudge‘. John Cho was perhaps the fourth most important character in this movie

> “We need an old woman to star in this horror movie.” “Don’t worry, Linda Shaye is already on her way.”
> Is it just me, or did Sam Landers (David Lawrence Brown) look a lot like Jack Baker from Resident Evil VII: Biohazard? Every time he popped up, all I could think was ‘Welcome to the family, son.’
> I remember reading many years ago, when this was first in development, that the director wanted to end this movie with a shoutout to The Ring, so we could get a US version of Sadako vs. Kayako. I don’t know how I feel about that idea
> I had no idea Betty Gilpin was in this movie, and I just watched her in The Hunt.  It’s so weird how that happens

Should you see this film: This was not good. An over reliance on jump scares, the lack of Toshio (aka the cat boy) and Kayako and a wasted main cast made this nearly unwatchable. I get the feeling it was planned as a TV series, considering the large cast and concurrent storylines, because it certainly didn’t work as a film.

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