One would hope that a new decade would bring around a new wave of creative film makers and writers, with new, fresh ideas for feature films. And yet here we are, one month in and finding ourselves with yet another incarnation of the 2002 movie Ju-On: The Grudge, which itself was the third instalment of the Ju-On franchise.
At the helm of the 2020 The Grudge is indie film maker Nicolas Pesce, known by horror fans for his 2016 black and white movie; The Eyes of My Mother. The story stays much the same – a nasty curse won’t die, which sees the narrative travelling in and out of four core storylines, told in non-chronological order. It takes Detective Muldoon’s (Andrea Riseborough) introduction for someone to put the pieces together, and she realises they must find a way to break the curse, or else face death.
Muldoon, a single mother grieving her husband’s death, is tasked with investigating a series of senseless and overtly gruesome murders that all share one thing in common: some mysterious link to an old house, 44 Reyburn Drive, Pennsylvannia.
Pesce himself has admitted to being obsessed with David Lynch, and there are overt homages to the director throughout the movie, from the CCTV shadows that suddenly disappear, to the empty straight service roads. The film also seems to be one of a new wave of horrors that are once again favouring the jump scare. Unfortunately, there’s nothing new in the way they are utilised or delivered, meaning the punch never comes.
There are perhaps one too many storylines woven into this film for it to feel cohesive, yet Pesce does his best to tie up loose ends before the clock runs out. The issue here is that The Grudge is so well known and has been parodied so many times, that the lack of innovation causes many of the scares to fall flat. The only scary thing about it is the irony of a curse that never dies – a fate The Grudge seems to have caught as well.
The Grudge is out in cinemas now.