Devesh Sharma, Jan 1, 2020 21:23 IST
Rating: 2.5 / 5
Back to basics
The Grudge is a successful Japanese franchise that was equally successful when brought across the ocean to America in 2004. The first two films were directed by Takashi Shimizu, the director of the original. The present film is a reboot of sorts and is the fourth installment of the franchise.
Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) is investigating a gruesome murder. Over a series of events, she discovers that the house where the murder took place is perhaps haunted. It seems that a vengeful spirit which has been killing people in Japan has travelled to America. Worse, the previous detective who made the same sort of a connection made a suicide attempt and still seems to be possessed. Soon, she too starts experiencing increasingly morbid hallucinations and knows she has to be strong in the spirit to save both herself and her young kid.
Director Nicolas Pesce is attempting a reboot here and hence borrows most of the elements seen in the original two films. It follows a non-linear narrative, moving back and forth between the past and the present as the detective goes through old records and pieces together facts about the earlier murders. We see the same kind of story being played out again as innocent people turn in their loved ones for no apparent reason. There are plenty of jump cuts and bump in the dark moments. There is a real gory scene where a woman is seen chopping off her own fingers. But the real horror in the films comes from the fact of watching someone close to you suddenly decides to kill you. The narrative kind of turns depressing as you realise there is no cure as the curse is only going to jump from person to person.
Pesce has made a name for himself for showcasing sadistic horror with dark twists in this earlier two ventures but that is kind of missing here. He”s strangely subdued here, following the plot points of the original films but not their intensity. The body count seen in the earlier films is missing as well. It”s not as scary as the original. Maybe because we have seen it all before and know what”s coming. That”s why a deviation from the routine was so important. The pace could have been spruced up as well.
While Andrea Riseborough has done ample justice to her role, bringing to light both the tenacity of a die-hard detective with the vulnerability of a single mother through her histrionics, the rest of the cast comes across as being one-dimensional. All-in-all, while it may offer some thrills to first time watchers, dedicated fans of the franchise may find it lackluster in comparison…
Neil Soans, Jan 2, 2020, 05.40PM IST
Rating: 3.0 / 5
STORY: A detective investigating a murder encounters a haunting mystery.
REVIEW: Although this reboot of the 2004 US remake of ‘Ju-On: The Grudge’ builds on the mythology of the Japanese horror franchise, it introduces new characters and new ghosts. The story begins with Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough), who is called in to investigate a murder. The detective is a single mother, raising her son by herself. She begins to encounter increasingly odd circumstances, and Muldoon soon realises she must defend her son and herself from inexplicable supernatural forces.
Screenwriter and director Nicolas Pesce seems to have some exciting elements to play with. He establishes multiple, overlapping storylines that make for an intriguing setup, as different families are affected by the grudge. But his ambitious ideas can’t take off due to a stunted screenplay. Eventually, we barely spend any time getting to know these families, so their fates don’t quite matter. This proves to be the film’s undoing. Even though the cast is certainly game, with some talented people putting in ample efforts to make their respective characters resonate with the audience. Of note are John Cho and Betty Gilpin as Peter and Nancy Spencer, a young couple into the real-estate business, looking to start a family. On the other end of the spectrum, Frankie Faison and Lin Shaye as William and Faith Matheson respectively, are struggling with age-related disorders. But character development is a lost cause with such a muddled plot.
The film’s prime focus is on delivering constant spooks. Irrespective of whether you fall prey to the numerous jump scares or not; you can’t help feeling there could be more than mere audio-visual shocks. However, all opportunities to instil any psychological fear are repeatedly squandered. What’s left is a mishmash of potential ideas that are unexplored because of the need to pander to horror fans. Despite a haunting tonality that’s faithfully maintained throughout, ‘The Grudge’ is likely to leave most viewers unsatisfied.