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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jan 19, 2020



‘THE GRUDGE’ is originally a Japanese horror movie, “Ju On” or “The Curse”, made in 2000, two years after the first Japanese horror hit, “The Ring”.  “Ju On” was remade in Hollywood in 2004 as “The Grudge”, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and it followed the storyline of the original Japanese flick. It was a hit so there is a sequel in 2006 and a part 3 in 2009.

Now, 11 years later, we get another reboot, not a sequel to the past “Grudge” movies. But it continues on the silly supernatural nonsense premise of the first three movies: that when someone dies in a powerful rage, a curse is born. Then when a living person meets it, it follows him and will never let him go until he’s afflicted with hallucinations and even insanity that will drive the victim to kill even his loved ones.

The new “Grudge” actually has several narrative strands but it centers on a female cop, Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough who we best remember from “Battle of the Sexes”), who moves with her son Burke to the Pennsylvania town called Cross River, where mysterious deaths have happened.

She sees the rotting corpse of a woman in the woods and she learns that the woman, Lorna (Jackie Weaver), is from the house in 44 Reyburn Drive.

She goes to the house and discovers the corpse of a man, William (Frankie Faison), whose wife, Faith (Lin Shaye of the “Insidious” franchise), looks mad and is taken to the hospital. While she is investigating the case, she gets haunted by the Landers family.

In flashbacks, we are told what happened to three families affected by the grudge in the movie. Fiona Landers (Tara Westwood), a nurse in Japan, returns to her home in 44 Reyburn Drive in Pennsylvania in 2004 and is reunited with her husband Sam (David Brown) and their daughter Melinda (Zoe Fish.)

She didn’t know that a ghost from Japan has followed her, causing her to kill her husband and child and later on kill herself.

Two cops investigate what happened, Goodman (Demian Bichir, “The Nun”) and Wilson (William Sadler.) Goodman refuses to enter the house but Wilson did and sees Fiona’s ghost. He loses his sanity and is taken to a mental hospital, where he later gouges his own eyes so he won’t see the ghosts anymore.

The next family affected is the Spencer family. Peter (John Cho), a real estate agent, and his pregnant wife, Nina (Betty Gilpin), learn that their baby might be born with a genetic defect. Peter goes to 44 Reyburn Drive to sell it but meets the ghost of the child Melinda and gets possessed, killing his own wife then himself.

The third family is the similarly ill-fated Mathesons, Faith and William.  After they moved into the house, Faith, who’s already terminally sick, loses her sanity and William calls in a suicide expert, Lorna (Jackie Weaver), who sees the ghost, tries to run away after she sees Faith killing William, but is haunted by a ghost while driving, causing her to crash, killing her.

Muldoon, to save herself and her son, then goes to the dreaded house and burns it. But has she stopped the grudge from harming her? Of course, this kind of horror films always have a surprise twist in their ending, just when you think the lead character has already been saved from danger.

The movie has its share of the usual jump scares, which all failed to scare us because writer-director Nicholas Pesce appears to just be giving us viewers a sample of different scary short stories. But the problem is that one cannot really commit to them or really care for any of its characters.

The usual tropes we see in other horror flicks are also employed here, like shadowy entities suddenly popping up in the dark or a chillingly foreboding atmosphere in a seemingly oppressive and decaying house. But us old fogeys in the horror genre are already familiar with such ploys, so only those newbies who have not really seen that many scary films would find them effective.

In fairness to the ensemble cast, most of the actors are quite good, but it’s all very generic, ho-hum. No wonder it didn’t do that well in the U.S. box office, so the attempt to resuscitate the franchise didn’t click and we doubt if they’d still come up with yet another dreary sequel.