The Grudge (2020): ‘A Boring And Lazy Horror Film’

by | 24 Jan 2020

Detective Muldoon investigates a murder at a haunted house and discovers it is cursed by a vengeful ghost.

Set within the same world, The Grudge is yet another attempt by Hollywood to reignite another long forgotten horror franchise. Similar to 2017’s Rings, this is technically a sequel to the early 2000’s Grudge films, which in themselves were English adaptations of a Japanese horror movie. It’s also another bid to reboot the franchise, as it’s made in a way for it to stand alone and doesn’t require you to have seen those earlier instalments.

Directed and written by Nicolas Pesce, the story follows Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough). After moving into a new town with her young son, she begins investigating a house with a tragic past. Strange occurrences begin to happen around Muldoon after she enters the house. As she digs deeper, she soon finds out that a vengeful ghost haunts this residence

The Grudge

  • Rated: 15 (UK).
  • Strong gore. Threat. Violence.
  • Horror. Mystery.
  • Andrea Riseborough, Betty Gilpin, Demián Bichir, Jacki Weaver, John Cho, Lin Shaye, Tara Westwood and Zoe Fish.

*This is an external link and will open in a new tab.

Although it has its moments, The Grudge is another lazily made scary movie. Feeling very stale and derivative, its structure is something we’ve all seen before. There’s nothing new here, and is formulaically built around a string of cheap jump scares. Any self-respecting horror fan will know all the tricks of the trade and see everything coming from miles away. A lot of the scares never feel earned and are usually a result of a loud noise or someone jumping out of a corner.

The story itself is set in different time periods, exploring the progression of this curse. Pesce tries to build this mystery about why this is all happening, but it’s all haphazardly put together with no real thought gone into the narrative. He makes it seem all very dramatic and serious but never reaches the peaks he’s aiming for. It’s not all bad and there are some nice visual touches that offer some artistic merit. They just keep getting undermined with the constant use of those dull and predictable jump scares.

External Links

  • Directed by: Nicolas Pesce.
  • Cinematography: Zack Galler.
  • Film Editing: Gardner Gould and Ken Blackwell.
  • Music: The Newton Brothers.
  • Screenplay: Nicolas Pesce.
  • Story: Jeff Buhler and Nicolas Pesce.
  • Original Screenplay: Takashi Shimizu.

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What’s more, all the characters have some kind of trauma they’re trying to deal with or run away from. They have the sort of back stories that will feel very familiar, with nothing fresh or new about them. And despite the actors trying their best, they’re barely fleshed-out beyond being cannon fodder for the scares. Riseborough tries her best but is basically that character who’s only driving motivation is to protect her child. Again it’s not a very original character type and is something we’ve seen in the majority of other scary movies.

John Cho also struggles with the material, bringing only a grimly depressed man who’s just another victim for the curse. Really, the only cast member who manages to inject any kind of energy into this film is Lin Shaye. Famous for the Insidious franchise (2010-2018), she has the experience needed for this type of movie. Likewise, as a seasoned actor, she actually brings a degree of pathos to her character.

‘In the last decade, we’ve had some great additions to the horror genre.’

Films like The Witch (2015), Get Out (2017), Hereditary (2018) and Us (2019). They all proved what you can do with the right story and good direction. Unfortunately, in comparison, The Grudge just comes off as boring and lazy. Just another attempt to re-tread a known property in the hope of making a profit. Not trying anything new, and with only one or two redeeming elements, this is a horror film best left untouched.

David Axcell

Film Critic

David has quite a broad taste in film which includes big budget blockbusters and small indie films; including International and Arthouse cinema. As long as it’s good in that particular genre, he’ll watch anything.

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