Movie review: More madness and murder in 'The Grudge' reboot

Fred Hawson

Posted at Jan 20 2020 04:39 PM

A scene from 'The Grudge.' Handout

The original "Grudge" movie was the 2002 Japanese horror movie "Ju-On" by Takashi Shimizu. It originated a story about how when someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage, a curse is born. This curse possessed the house where this death occurred and would corrupt anybody who made the mistake of entering that place. It introduced us to the vengeful ghosts of Kayako, a Japanese woman with long hair covering her face, and her son Toshio, a little boy with wide open black eyes.

This film got an American remake in 2004, also directed by Takashi Shimizu, involving Americans who moved into the house in Tokyo where the curse originated. There had been several subpar sequels in both Japan and the US over the years, culminating in a cheesy crossover featuring the two foremost long-haired lady ghosts of Japanese cinema, Sadako (of "The Ring) and Kayako (of "The Grudge").

The US decided to reboot the 2004 film again this year, bringing the curse to the USA. Like the original movie, the film would jump back and forth in time from 2004 to 2006 to tell the story of four families upon whom the curse had descended. It all started when an American caregiver who worked in the original Tokyo house where the curse began went back home to her home in suburban Pennsylvania. Since then, everyone who went into their cursed address of 44 Reyburn Drive would see ghastly visions which led to madness and murder.

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The whole atmosphere is dark and eerie as would be expected from the horror film like this. The musical score and shocking sound effects all contributed to this. Director Nicolas Pesce certainly knew how to build up the suspense for a jump scare, though some may be predictable. He did not shirk from showing disturbing, gory or bloody images of all sorts, not just limited to long-haired ladies in white this time around. I cannot say that all the scares worked as Pesce planned, but at least they did keep audiences at the edge of their scenes.

There was no Sarah Michelle Gellar in this reboot, but there are familiar faces like John Cho (as a real estate agent), Jackie Weaver (as an assisted suicide counselor) and Andrea Riseborough (as a harrassed cop). But, of course, the best (or in this case, the most disgusting) scene of all belonged to none other than American horror film superstar, Lyn Shaye. As the demented Faith Matheson, she had her back turned while working at the kitchen counter with a chopping knife. I will give you three guesses what she was chopping. That scene alone was worth the price of admission for me.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."