Movie Review: The Grudge (2020)


Starring: John Cho

Directed By: Nicolas Pesce (The Eys of My Mother, Piercing)

Rated: R

Runtime: 1 hour 34 minutes

The Grudge is a remake of the 2004 American remake of the 2002 Japanese classic horror film.Yes, that’s a confusing sentence.So I will repeat it.The Grudge was made for American audiences 16 years ago starring Sarah Michelle Gellar.It was created in 2002 for Japanese audiences under the title, Ju-On which means The Grudge.It’s the story of a house with a vengeful spirit dwelling inside it who violently murders all inhabitants.

This is the latest in a long line of remakes that no one asked for.It’s easy to sit here and say “oh Hollywood has run out of ideas.They just churn out the same ol thing nowadays.”I try and defend movies a lot.There’s some value to quite a few remakes, it gets people re-interested in classics that came out half a century before they were born a lot of the time.But in this instance, The Grudge came out when I was in college.And it was a mediocre movie then.Why bring it back?Not enough time has passed.

Also, I was a much bigger fan of The Ring.Which was a Japanese horror movie remade for Americans in 2002.The turning to a new millennium saw a lot of Japanese classics remade for American audiences to varying degrees of success.The Ring made 250 million bucks worldwide and spawned two sequels.The Ring 2 being confusing and awful, Rings being a movie I forgot existed.The Grudge made about 187 million worldwide, spawning two sequels that I never bothered seeing because I didn’t care for the first one.All this is to say the bar was low for this remake of The Grudge.

I’m a positive person, so I’ll start with what I did like about the movie.It creates a mood.It has an overwhelming sense of dread the entire time.The special effects are incredible.Everything looks pretty real.OK, that’s it.

The Grudge takes far too long to set up its fairly simple story.A lady investigated a murder in Japan, she was cursed, before coming home to America and dying tragically.The house she died in now takes vengeance on all who inhabit it.OK…go!This 90 minute movie takes about 45 minutes to set up the story.I saw the first movie.I saw the trailer for this movie.I know the deal.Now, do something!The first half of this movie is almost entirely people slowly walking down a dark hallway because they think they heard something.

I respect a horror movie putting in the work to create a story.Giving us character details most horror movies don’t bother pursuing.Motivations, interests, past trauma, The Grudge does a really commendable job trying to make you care about these characters.But it often forgets it’s a horror movie.It should do something scary.We’re not necessarily rooting for these characters to make it out of this story alive.So why bother giving us half a movie’s worth of background on them.

I went into the 2020 version of The Grudge ready to be wowed.Which is a terrible thing to do in January.It’s a dumping ground for bad movies.But this year seems a little different.But that’s another story for another day.I went in wanting to like this movie despite my disdain for the originals.It had a good trailer, an R-rating which something the 2004 desperately needed, it just didn’t deliver the goods.

There’s always two ways to review a horror movie, something we talk about on this show a lot.There’s reviewing it as a movie on its own merits just like any other movie.In that regard, this is probably passable.Not the worst thing in the world.It certainly isn’t bad.Now, reviewing it as a horror movie, did it have good scares, good effects, could I take a date to this and have her clutch my arm the whole time?No.The Grudge looks good when it’s actually doing something, but it is a painfully boring exercise the majority of the time.

On a scale of “See It/Stream It/Skip It” – Skip It – Too boring with too many other options to recommend anyone waste their time on

If you liked The Grudge (2004), The Ring, or The Conjuring you might enjoy The Grudge (2020).

2 out of 5 stars for The Grudge.It is a valiant effort that just misses the mark.