Title Card - “The Grudge” (2020)

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Like “Rings,” the “SaW” remake, and so many other horror franchises that reboots were attempted for, “The Grudge” seems like it shouldn’t have been made.

Director(s) Nicolas Pesce
Screenplay By Nicolas Pesce
Date Released (Theatrical) 1/2/2020
Genre(s) Horror


Duration 1 Hour 33 Minutes
Noted Cast
Fiona Tara Westwood
Peter John Cho
Nina Betty Gilpin
William Frankie Faison
Faith Lin Shaye
Detective Muldoon Andrea Riseborough
Detective Goodman Demián Bichir
Detective Wilson William Sadler
Sam David Lawrence Brown
Melinda Zoe Fish
Burke John J. Hansen

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

“The Grudge” (2020) Plot Summary/ Review (Spoilers on 2nd Page)

The newest entry into “The Grudge” franchise splits itself into multiple stories which all focus on the house at 44 Reyburn. It begins with Fiona Landers, and the death of her family, Peter, and Nina Spencer, who were tasked with selling Fiona’s home, William and Faith Matheson, who follow them, and then Detective Muldoon, Detective Goodman, and Detective Wilson, all of which have taken part in at least one investigation dealing with that house.

Together they deal with the spirit Fiona brought back from Tokyo, Japan, and while some are killed by the spirit, others fight back until the very end.


It Has A Handful Of Quality Jump Scares – 80

Despite being a rather skittish person, only 3 or 4 times can I really recall being frightened. Mostly by cheap jump scares more than anything else. For what you’ll notice about this entry in “The Grudge” is that it is far more dedicated to the idea of depicting something grotesque, like maggots eating flesh, vomiting blood, suicide, and things of that nature, than scaring you. In fact, like many a horror film, it is in the sudden screams you find yourself jolted from the stupor you often find yourself in.


With How The Film Jumps From One Set Of Characters To The Next, You Don’t Get To Really Bond With Anyone – 66

There are very few horror films that can universally be praised for their story. So, usually, they compensate for their story by upping the scares and having characters you want to see live and becoming emotionally invested in. “The Grudge” doesn’t have that. From Detective Muldoon, the de facto lead role, down to the most recognizable actors of the bunch, John Cho and Betty Gilpin, not one person has that character you want to latch onto.

I’d contribute that to this film having far more characters than it needs and in creating an ensemble cast, doing a disservice to all that are involved. For I’ll admit, a part of me wanted to know more about Cho and Gilpin’s characters, since their baby was diagnosed with ALD. Also, considering Fiona’s daughter Melinda is played up to be this creepy kid, it made me want to know more about Fiona and her family.

However, from the evil spirit to the families we see negatively affected by it, all you get is just enough to differentiate one group from the next, but never enough to build a real and secure connection.

The Overall Story Doesn’t Draw You In – 64

Which of course, the story doesn’t help, because the plot is disgustingly thin. Fiona brought back the spirit of “The Grudge” from Tokyo to her home at 44 Reyburn, and what would usually take multiple movies happens all in one. We see the people move in or visit the house, be haunted, go crazy, and repeat. And even with three detectives involved, we don’t dig deep into any notable aspect of the former owners or their associates. Everything is just about setting up the next scare and considering how they set up the spirits to just be there as someone walks by and don’t employ any sense of the word subtle, as time wears on, you’ll be checking your watch repeatedly.


Met Expectations – 63

I can’t recall a horror remake yet that has led to a revival of its franchise, besides “It,” and that benefitted from being a book that relied on a strong ensemble cast more than the fears the villain could inspire. However, as for nearly every other horror franchise? As shown, like a 90/00s R&B singer, rapper or comedian, while they had their time in the sun, that time has long past and all they can do is hope to have a greatest hits collection.

Would Watch Again? – One and Done – 65

Rating: Negative (Acquired Taste)

One can only hope that as these horror remakes fail one after another, it pushes the various studios to no longer think that just because horror is a cheap genre, it means little to lose and a lot to gain. For one of the most beautiful things about the horror genre is that it can combine so many others and flourish when it has the right people.

Inherently, horror is either rooted in drama or comedy, has sci-fi or fantasy elements, and everything that respected films have. Take note of Jordan Peele’s work. His work in horror elevates the genre to points we have rarely seen any creative consistently do. Yet, sadly, he seems to be an outlier as others rely on the old, tired, and increasingly unprofitable method of hoping people will come in masses for a cheap thrill. However, I think I’m not alone in saying that, while I love the ability to get scared and ultimately know I’ll be okay, that doesn’t mean I want each jump scare to be more frightening because it woke me up than because of what was happening on the screen or to a character I connected with.


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“The Grudge” (2020) Ending Spoilers

In the long run, nearly everyone but Detective Goodman dies. Fiona kills her entire family, and between her, her husband Sam, and daughter Melinda, they become the villains. The ones who inspire Peter to kill Nina, then himself. Also, mostly Melinda, inspire Faith to kill William. And while Detective Muldoon tries to destroy the curse by setting the house on fire, Melinda and the others just follow her home and apparently kill her after masquerading as her son, Burke. Someone who, when he returns home from school, will either be next or end up with Detective Wilson in a psychological hospital.

Is A Sequel Possible?

Writer/ Director Nicolas Pesce is talking about sequels, per Comicbook.com[1], but I doubt they’ll get traction unless this become a surprise hit this weekend.

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[1] https://comicbook.com/horror/2020/01/02/the-grudge-sequels-reboot-remake-ghost-prequel/

Would Watch Again? - 65%
Met Expectations - 63%
The Overall Story Doesn’t Draw You In - 64%
With How The Film Jumps From One Set Of Characters To The Next, You Don’t Get To Really Bond With Anyone - 66%
It Has A Handful Of Quality Jump Scares - 80%


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