Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Demian Bichir, John Cho, Betty Gulpin
Director: Nicholas Pesce
Well if there’s one thing consistent about January in the film business, the first weekend is where crappy horror movies go to die. It looks like the new decade will be no different as The Grudge fills that role and gives us a cautious start to the year. Considering that this movie is one of a franchise instead of just a dumb, generic horror movie, it’s sad to see a series get this desperate with their remakes. A sloppy, unorganized, and boring mess, The Grudge serves no purpose other than to suck up January box office dollars and it did exactly that and nothing else.
The film follows the same direction as the previous movies in the franchise, splicing time between three sets of characters throughout the 94 minute runtime. Much like the previous movies, there’s an evil spirit that haunts these characters and doesn’t stop until the characters are either killed or they kill themselves. With no end in sight, those impacted by this spirit must attempt to find a solution or they’ll end up being the next victim in a long list of lives taken by it. Let’s start off with the most important factor of any good horror movie; the horror. For a creature that appears to be truly unstoppable and without any real weakness, I was surprised by just how boring and unscary the demon felt to me. It just kind of stays in the corner and makes a drawn out, annoying sound and bleeds profusely, which may work for some audiences but does nothing for me. Calling your movie The Grudge implies your villain will be an unrelenting force of evil that captures soul with a sense of urgency and purpose. What this movie really should be called is The Annoyance because all this thing does is show up in jump-scare moments or do something gory for the sake of doing something gory. I have a feeling this movie may have been damaged by studio interference, because as an independent director Pesce’s movies have been met with much acclaim, but that skill is nowhere to be found here. When you take into consideration that this movie follows an nontraditional path from a movie-making perspective with non-linear storytelling and multiple characters we learn about, there’s really no reason that this movie ended up being this bad. I’m not exactly a huge fan of the original movies, but it feels as though this movie had no real purpose to exist. Usually movies have some sort of idea that they want to promote or something unique that they want to present, but I guess those rules don’t apply when you’re a January horror movie and you just want to make a quick buck. It’s really pathetic that Sony thought this movie was good enough to release theatrically, when it’s very clearly something that you can pick up at Wal-Mart with the same amount of excitement as those who watched this movie. I don’t know why all January horror movies have to suck, but The Grudge leans into these stereotypes and creates a dull atmosphere that nobody will remember.
Overall, I’ve always thought there was potential with this franchise, but when you make movies exclusively for their profit and not because of the artistic merit, you end up with a movie void of anything interesting or exciting. I don’t know what Cho was thinking signing onto this movie, because we know he’s capable of much better work in other projects. Ultimately The Grudge isn’t the worst January horror movie available, but it’s pretty far down there and shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone who values their time.
Overall Score: 3/10