Film Review: The Grudge

Frances Winston reviews this reboot of Japanese horror film, Ju-On (The Grudge)

Directed by: Nicolas Pesce – Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Demián Bichir, John Cho, Betty Gilpin, Lin Shaye, Jacki Weaver

This was first announced in 2011 as a reboot of the 2004 Sarah Michelle Gellar remake of the Japanese horror film, Ju-On (The Grudge). Since that announcement, it has gone through a rather erratic development trajectory (I really don’t have a long enough word count to explain it here) so what we get is more of a sidequel than a reboot, as events here run alongside events in the original (American remake) movie, and its sequels (still with me – good).

Although this follows a non-chronological format (much like the other movies in the franchise) the plot, in a nutshell, involves The Grudge curse being brought from Japan to America, by a nurse who murders her family before committing suicide.

However, now that the curse is in the house, it’s going to affect everyone who enters it. What follows is a series of time-hop stories, showing the fates of those possessed by the curse, including an estate agent, an elderly couple, and a rookie detective investigating the case of a corpse found in the woods.

It has to be said that this really brings nothing new to an already tepid franchise. It boasts an extremely talented cast, but they all feel wasted here, on what is essentially a rather hokey story. Riseborough and Cho, in particular, do a great job with rather flimsy material, but their few moments of brilliance can’t save this, unfortunately.

There aren’t enough scares to keep you engaged, and when they do come, the effects do look sub-par. Also, the time-hop style of telling the story doesn’t always work. It gets very confusing in places, as you try to keep track of where you are in the chronology.

It’s also very dark – literally. Pesce has employed that old trope of shooting everything in shadow, to build atmosphere. But at times it is actually hard to see what is going on.

This is a pretty generic horror-flick that never steps outside its comfort zone, which is to the audience’s detriment. None of the stories contained within it are that strong, and many of the characters are walking clichés. The original movie wasn’t really iconic enough to merit another addition to its throes, and I spent much of this asking myself why they bothered – and I say that as a big fan of the horror genre.

Back in the 80s, this would have been a straight to video offering, and unless you are really completely sick and tired of the current glut of ‘worthy’ movies hitting cinemas for awards season, this will prove a disappointing cinema visit.

In Cinemas January 24th!

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