At the end of 2019, I prayed to the cinema gods for fewer mediocre movies in 2020. If we were going to get bad movies, let them be really bad. Bad enough that people will get riled up about them. And here, not even a week into the calendar year, we’ve been blessed with one of them. The Grudge, a reboot of a remake, is technically both the best and worst movie of the year so far, but it only stands a chance at remaining as the latter by the time 2020 comes to an end.
In case you’re unfamiliar, The Grudge franchise sees people be haunted by a ghost who died in a house under emotional circumstances. The ghost then haunts (and usually eventually kills) anyone who enters that house. Why? Doesn’t matter, because ghost. The story this time around follows countless characters from the years of 2004-2006 as they enter a specific house and then get haunted by a ghost. I could not make this simpler for you, folks. It’s an incredibly basic concept.
The movie doesn’t believe that, however, and instead dedicates almost the entirety of its running time trying to suss out a mystery that doesn’t matter, because ghost. It’s all the same thing, there isn’t actually a mystery to it, the framing device and non-linear storytelling reek of an editor trying to cobble together a mess of a plot into something borderline watchable, and to top it off it ends on an incredibly pathetic whimper. Its ending isn’t quite the non-conclusion that The Devil Inside had, but it’s not far off—and that’s something that I didn’t think we’d be saying in current year.
Everything leading up to the unsatisfactory conclusion is bad, too, but it’s the end of a movie that typically sticks with you. The rest of the film is paced like molasses and filled with a few jump startles but no atmosphere to even attempt to make them effective. The acting is bad, especially for a cast this talented, and the dialogue they’re given to say is worse. It’s an embarrassing watch. You feel bad while it enters your eyeballs and ears.
In the early-to-mid 2000s, Hollywood started remaking J-horror movies for English-speaking audiences. It didn’t work, but we got a whole lot of them. The trend died, more or less, after a while, but every now and then there’s a new attempt. What makes me laugh is that The Grudge and The Ring were among the two biggest money-makers, and even after a new Ring movie was released and didn’t turn out, it was still The Grudge‘s turn. The reason for this, of course, is these movies don’t cost much money and the name recognition alone will allow them to turn a profit. If you care about cinema, you shouldn’t see this one.
The Grudge reboots the dead-for-a-reason horror franchise in the least effective way possible. It’s an incredibly slow-paced bore that spends more time trying to solve a mystery that doesn’t exist than it does trying to scare its audience or its characters. It’s edited in a way that is either desperately trying to make a mess watchable or obscure us from how messy the entire production is. The Grudge is another jump startle movie where a sudden change in lighting or camera movement allows a ghost to show up and say “boo!” and if you aren’t tired of that by now, you will be by the time The Grudge reaches its barely-an-ending conclusion.
Conclusion: The Grudge is a dull slog of a horror movie.
Recommendation: If you care about cinema, you shouldn’t see The Grudge.
- Rating - 2/102/10