Movie ReviewsThe Grudge – An Incredibly Lazy Bore

Keith NoakesJanuary 3, 202025/100
Andrea Riseborough, Demián Bichir, John Cho
Nicolas Pesce
Nicolas Pesce
14A (Canada), R (United States)
Running Time
93 minutes
Release Date
January 3rd, 2020
Overall Score
Rating Summary
Anyone who watches The Grudge will develop a grudge with whoever decided to greenlight this unnecessary reboot of a reboot.

Why not get it out of the way early? In an age of reboots, the fact that a reboot of a reboot was actually made shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise to anybody. January (and also August) has a reputation of being a dump month where studios literally dump films without much in the way of promotion as it is less of a risk (usually due to their perceived quality). January horror films especially have a not so desirable reputation (of usually being bad). The Grudge, a reboot of the 2004 film of the same name (which has spawned multiple sequels) which was itself a reboot of the 2002 Japanese film (which has also spawned multiple sequels) of the same name, fortunately or not, fits right into that mold.

More or less, it’s pretty safe to say that those who have seen any of the Grudge films should have a good idea of what to expect here. Though for the most part, audiences will be confused by The Grudge‘s convoluted, non-linear storyline while waiting for something remotely exciting to happen (spoiler alert: nothing does). This film manages to succeed at being slow and rushed at the same time. This lazy mess will certainly feel longer than its 90+ minute running time at times as it lazily stumbles along with no interest whatsoever in bringing anything new to the table. Its incoherent story about a cursed house throws out so many cliches, stupid character decisions, and laughable jump scares that it will be a frustrating chore to watch as it doesn’t take any risks with its storytelling though is occasionally entertaining at times for the wrong reasons.

The Grudge follows Detective Muldoon (Riseborough), a new detective on the police force who would become consumed by the case of the cursed house as the cursed house and the Ju-On (or the grudge) from Japan of course slowly began to consume her (and others). While Muldoon’s trajectory was rather straightforward (and also going nowhere), it was also incredibly dull and predictable. Her subplot was arguably the least interesting as the film could be best described as a hamfisted anthology as it sporadically jumped back and forth between Muldoon’s investigation and a few other stories from the cursed house involving an elderly couple named Faith (Lin Shaye) and William Matheson (Frankie Faison) and a young couple named Peter (Cho) and Nina Spencer (Betty Gilpin). Though these other subplots were far more interesting to watch, the sheer thinness of the script made it next to impossible to invest in its story or characters.

If The Grudge does anything right, it sort of gets the atmosphere right through its use of lighting and sound effects but in the end, the best part of the film was Riseborough’s committed performance as Muldoon though it would almost be by default as she seemed to be the only one who actually tried (meanwhile the others just accepted their paychecks). The material may be questionable at best, however, she was still somewhat compelling to watch while the rest of the surprisingly decent cast was wasted with boring, paper-thin characters and a convoluted plot.

At the end of the day, while The Grudge‘s ending sets up the possibility of further films, just don’t.

*still courtesy of Sony Pictures*

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