THE GRUDGE (2020)

Happy New Year, everybody! With a new year comes a new January, and with a new January comes a new terrible horror movie! Well, last year’s first film, Escape Room, wasn’t all that bad, so, who knows? Perhaps we would get lucky two years in a row. Well, what we got this year is a pointless reboot that not one person in the world was asking for, so… Sad new year, and decade, everyone! 
 
The Grudge (2020) follows Detective Muldoon (Andrea Risebourough), who finds a dead body in a car deep in the woods. She finds a connection to the Matheson family and heads to their house. There, she encounters an insane Faith Matheson (Lin Shaye) and her dead husband William (Frankie Faison). However, Faith isn’t just insane, but is haunted by a curse known as The Grudge. Muldoon unknowingly brings the curse home with her and is soon terrorized by a ghost girl with long black hair. How can this all be stopped?! Well, Hollywood surely doesn’t know. 
 
The Grudge is an incredibly simple concept. You’re cursed by a resentful ghost girl who then haunts and possesses you into killing your family. Simple. So, you know what a concept like that needs? Four different storylines, of course! We’re not just treated to Detective Muldoon’s (who doesn’t even have a first name) hackneyed detective work of combing through case files and listening to exposition laden audio tapes, but we get to know all about the families she’s investigating! There are four different storylines with their own characters to keep track of here, with various families being affected by The Grudge. I like the idea of a ghost making you lose your mind and kill your family, but you need to actually connect with the family. Since there are so many plot and character threads, I was never sure who I was supposed to be invested in, nor why should I even care. Muldoon is technically the “main character”, with the relationship with her son being the main emotional core, but with all of these other plot threads, there’s no development to any of it. It feels like we have four movies stitched together, with some ghost girl stuff thrown in to try and make it cohesive. It eventually devolves into characters just acting stupid and murdering each other, with no real clear goal in sight. This is only 85 minutes long, but I felt like I was in the theater for hours, as there’s just no narrative thrust or build-up to anything. You get a predictable twist at the end to tie everything up, but nothing feels tied up. It just feels like it stops half-way through the story. 
 
Even if the movie doesn’t make sense, it could still squeak by on the aesthetic alone, as that’s what a horror film requires most to be “horror”. Well, you don’t just get a lack of story or direction, but also a complete lack of atmosphere, suspense, or mystery. The characters may be haunted by ghosts, but I never once felt any feeling of dread. Maybe it’s because the characters didn’t take it completely seriously, making dumb decision after dumb decision just to create some horror. “Hey, it’s a bathtub filled with dirty water… Better kneel down and put my face close to it!” There are jump scares galore, with absolutely none of them earned, and most of them incredibly predictable. The only bright spot when it comes to being a horror film is that there’s some terrific gore, but that’s all it really has going for it. It’s not disturbing, or scary gore, either. Just gross. One of the most disappointing aspects is that we have a excellent cast here. Andrea Risebourough, John Cho, Betty Gilpin, Jackie Weaver (who is unexpectedly, hilariously bad), and Lin Shaye are all here, but they get nothing to do aside from scrambling around and looking confused.  
 
The Grudge (2020) was produced by Sam Raimi’s production company Ghost House pictures, and being a massive Raimi fan, this is incredibly disheartening. He produced the 2004 Grudge film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, but there was a passion to that. There’s no passion here. It seems like Universal was desperate to reboot any old IP they could to scrounge up a quick buck, and Sam Raimi just happened to own the rights to this property. Well, I sure hope he enjoyed his paycheck, because as far as delivering horror fans an entertaining experience, he couldn’t have cared less here. Remember, folks, grudges aren’t healthy, so after a while, we’re all better off if it’s dead. 
 
2.5/10 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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