Does The Remake Remain Cursed By A Fatally Hokey Concept? “Grudge” Isn’t That Scary

The latest remake of The Grudge has received rave reviews from critics. 2002’s Ju-On: The Grudge is one of the undisputed classics of the new wave of Japanese horror. The film, written and directed by Takashi Shimizu, was the western introduction of a new genre of horror that defied the expectations of this genre of Hollywood. Ju-on: The Grudge of-course wasn’t the best but it was one that best illustrated the concept of children with long black hair, scary ghouls, etc that has its roots in Japanese mythology and also the concept that there really is no safe place.

Death isn’t scary enough for the haunted characters that populate the “Grudge” franchise. Instead, it’s what happens after death, that’s scary, where the vengeful (and for reason always wet) spirits appear and attempt to achieve cosmic-level revenge on whoever happens to be present. This film based on Takashi Shimizu’s wildly popular J-horror films functions as both a reboot of the series and a weird sequel to the first Americanized remake of the franchise. The new entry has all the hallmarks of the first set of remakes, but sadly, this attempt only succeeds at proving that the potential for this franchise died a long time ago.

With cinema screens in January occupied by predominantly by Oscar bait movies and the most popular Christmas blockbuster releases, these weeks are regularly regarded by studios as a dumping ground when pretty much badly done movie projects can be set loose to quietly die at the box office. For horror fans, however, the first month of the year can be a frighteningly fertile territory with quite a lot of horror releases.

The Grudge, is basically a half-sequel and a half-reboot of the 2004 Sarah Michelle Gellar-starring, Tokyo-set haunted house tale of the same name, which in itself is nothing but a remake of the 2002 Japanese horror movie Ju-On: The Grudge. Written and directed by Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother, Piercing) this new movie keeps the same setting as the Gellar movie but relocated to a small town in Pennsylvania. There we are introduced to Andrea Riseborough’s cop and widowed single mother Detective Muldoon who is determined to solve the mystery of a horribly mutilated corpse which was found in a car in the middle of the forest. Muldoon’s new partner Goodman (Demián Bichir) attempts to dissuade her from looking into the case, because of the similarity to a previous investigation which still haunts him, but she nevertheless goes ahead with it. Over time, Muldoon uncovers the spooky truth of what is going on while the audience is taken along a series of flashbacks documenting the routinely horrifying fates of several other characters, including a couple of realtors played by John Cho and Betty Gilpin, an elderly couple portrayed by Lin Shaye and Frankie Faison, and Goodman’s former partner (William Sadler). A horror movie where the audience laughs instead of being frightened, is of-course a recipe for disaster. Jump scares are indeed a cheap and overused tool in the horror genre as it is, but when you use them, they have to work and that clearly is not the case here with The Grudge.

Beyond the film’s lack of genuine scares, a common point in the reviews for The Grudge is that the new film neither differentiates itself from what came before nor justify its own existence.

Overall: If you seriously want to be scared, please go for any Indian soap operas, rather than wasting your time, money and yourself into it.

Verdict: 2.5/5

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