Review- The Grudge
The Grudge as a series has always been met with somewhat mediocre reviews with the first western installment reaching only 49 on Metacritic. However, it is safe to say that this newest installment has piqued interest thanks to the attachment of Sam Raimi. But it is safe to say that this latest version offers nothing new to the franchise and is as half-arsed as they come.
At the beginning of the film, we are met with a scene that brings back the original ghostly character with the same spine-chilling vocal clicking, synonymous with the original. While this starting point invites audiences into the journey they are about to go on, the rest of the story revolves around characters that show not even the slightest glimmer of personality, and are modeled after the most basic stereotypes and scenes that even the biggest horror novices could predict.
The character of Detective Muldoon played by Andrea Riseborough offers audiences no more than a generic character for us to follow, being portrayed as nothing more than an inquisitive police officer, but even then the film prefers to spend most of its run time with flashbacks of what happened to previous tenants in the new haunted house. This is problematic since as spectators we are already aware of the fates of these characters in the present timeline, which leaves us with a complete lack of tension and fear. By the time each flashback has concluded our present story is relegated to a timer to the death of Detective Muldoon. Even the counterpart to the character- Goodman played by Demián Bichir is left in the bracket of a disgruntled cop who survived his haunting purely on a hunch.
The film also suffers from what a lot of horror movies fall victim to and that is showing too much of their “monster”. It leaves our antagonists as nothing more than lurking spectators that we know are going to end up killing characters in the following moments rather than leaving audiences guessing.
The worst example that stands out is the use of an over the shoulder shot where the ghost is watching the unsuspecting victim from inside the haunted house, along with overused tropes of characters leaving the frame to reveal the specter stood where the character once was. Besides these moments the film also falls into using typical jump scares to jolt its audiences, where this fails is how they are placed in the movie. Anyone who has seen a handful of horror movies will note that when all sound leaves the movie there is usually a jump scare to come, the most obvious example in The Grudge (2020) is a scene where Detective Muldoon hides from the specter inside of a closet that allows streaks of light through its slats, a few briefs moments of heavy breathing a ghost appears at the side of the character. The film even goes so far as to completely copy one of the most icon scenes from 2016’s Lights out, with Muldoon spotting one of the ghosts in her doorway and getting rid of it by turning on the lights only for it to reappear once the lights are off again.
Technically speaking there is nothing inherently wrong with the film, the only thing that causes immediate problems is the lighting. For the most part, the film takes place in the dark because of course, it’s a horror movie, but the majority of these scenes are underexposed which will leave audiences squinting to figure out what they’re being shown. This was most irritating when the reveal of a decomposing body is completely undermined when you could barely see the rotting flesh on its face, completely removing all tension in the scene.
But the most unforgivable part of this movie comes at its closing moments, with Muldoon sending her son off to school after the haunting ordeal is over. Once again the film pulls out a moment straight out of the typical horror movie ending book after Muldoon pulls away from her son after an embrace her son can be seen in the background about to head off the school bus, leaving us with the reveal of the specter being left in her arms.
Overall, I think that The Grudge (2020) is another example of a horror franchise being done to death, with the once terrifying vocal clicks of the specter being an impression to do among friends along with the “ki ma” of Friday the 13ths music. If you are in the mood to partake the viewing of a Grudge movie there are at least five more entertaining and superior versions.