The Grudge is an American horror film that was written and directed by Nicolas Pesce and produced by Sam Raimi, it released in 2020. It serves as a sidequel that takes places before and during the 2004 American remake of original 2002 Japanese horror film Ju-On: The Grudge. This makes it the fourth installment in the American Grudge film series.
Live-in nurse Fiona informs her co-worker that she is returning to America before encountering the ghost of Kayako. Fiona arrives at her home on 44 Reyburn Drive, reuniting with her husband Sam and young daughter Melinda. However, Kayako’s curse possesses Fiona, causing her to bludgeon Sam to death and drown Melinda before committing suicide.
Detective Muldoon moves to town with her son following her husband’s death from cancer. Muldoon and her new partner Goodman are called to the woods where a corpse has been discovered. Goodman becomes uncomfortable when they learn that the deceased had been visiting 44 Reyburn Drive. Muldoon questions him and he reveals his suspicion that the house is cursed.
Muldoon goes to the house, discovering a disoriented and self-mutilated woman named Faith. The woman is in clear distress which causes Muldoon to panic and flee the house. However, before she can leave she discovers the rotting corpse of Faith’s husband.
From this point on, Muldoon begins to obsessively investigate 44 Reyburn Drive in the hope of piecing the puzzle together. She discovers that many others had fallen victim to whatever curse resides over the house. At the same time, her own sanity will be brought into question as she goes deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole.
This might shock you considering how critically panned this film was but I really liked it. I had low expectations due to the negativity which may have helped me find enjoyment. One thing I cannot deny is how horrible the very opening is. It almost immediately gives away the monster of the film with no subtlety. I was very concerned about how the rest of the film was going to be beyond this point.
You’re introduced to a bunch of different stories, each set at related moments in time. There are separate characters and it spends extended periods of time with each of them. I found this to be jarring because they almost feel like their own individual movies. I could imagine each of them being just that. It jumps from one to the next and at the time it can be rather frustrating. However, by sticking with it I have to admit that the film does a very good job of stringing all of the threads together.
You learn little about each of the characters. Still, each of them has their own sorrowful tale that makes you feel invested. They feel like real people so even when you know they don’t survive you feel something.
The scares in the film are mostly generic, predictable jump scares. It’s not that what it is showing isn’t scary but the ways in which it’s executed is poor. It’s frustrating because The Grudge manages to deliver some highly effective creepy moments that are wonderfully subtle. Also, there are some really nasty looking gore-filled scenes.
The acting throughout is high quality. Lin Shaye steals the show, as she usually does.
Other than the jump scares, the biggest crime that The Grudge commits is even calling itself “The Grudge” in the first place. I know it’s somewhat tied to the previous American films. However, they could easily have just called this something else entirely. I feel a lot of the backlash towards this film is because people are really loyal to the original J-horror.
I know I’m in the minority but as a total package, I believe this is a very solid horror film with quality gore effects. Its shortcomings are glaring but it does enough good that I was able to look past it.