The Grudge (2020) – Film Review

It’s been over 10 years since the popular Japanese horror film Ju-On was westernised into an American film franchise titled The Grudge. While the first film still remains incredible and iconic in the history of horror films, it went downhill slightly with the sequel and then just bombed by the third.

You would think with the title, they would’ve adapted a new story line but it starts off set before the 2004 film (also titled The Grudge) showing Fiona Landers (Tara Westwood) exiting the house where it all began. Looking back at the house with a frightened look, Fiona talks on the phone to Yoko who would later take Fiona’s place as a nurse at the household which then connects to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character, Karen.

Fiona leaves Japan, and travels home to Cross River, Pennsylvania to reunite with her husband Sam (David Lawrence Brown) and young daughter Melinda (Zoe Fish). This makes it the first time that The Grudge franchise has been set outside of Japan, expanding the curse globally. However if you’ve seen the previous films you know loud and clear that running away doesn’t stop Kayako’s ghost from haunting you, and that anyone who has stepped inside that house is literally doomed, no matter where they go.

The film skips forward to the year of 2006, where Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) and her young son Burke (John J. Hansen) move to Cross River for a fresh new start after Muldoon loses her husband to cancer. Cutting short of the little details, Muldoon heads to her new job at the local police station, and is paired with Goodman (Demián Bichir) and discovers a dark history to a case that links Goodman with the Landers family.

Of course Muldoon has to put her nose into the case, otherwise this film has no story and she visits the household that Fiona and her family once lived at, which is now being occupied by new tenants. While visiting the house, Muldoon enters the household and as you can guess, she becomes instantly cursed. Unsure with what to believe is real or not, Muldoon attempts to piece together the puzzle and end the evil curse in hope to stop Kayako’s ghost from tormenting her and harming her child.

I’m a little unsure as to why they didn’t just call this film ‘The Grudge 4’, or just give it a whole new unrelated title. The film may have shared some connections and shown some homage to the previous films, but it also went in a direction with creating something new.

Kayako who is the main ghost is a legend herself, but barely appears in this film, which was slightly disappointing. What’s worse is that the Toshio and his cat-like scream doesn’t even make an appearance. Is it even a Grudge film without these two evil characters making a bad ass killing team? Instead, the ghosts that haunt the humans are victims who have been tortured and killed by the evil Grudge curse.

To people who haven’t seen the previous films, I can see them enjoying this as it’s almost a whole new story. But for anyone who has seen the previous films, you may not be a huge fan. I mean, it’s not as bad as third film (which can’t be too hard), but it’s nothing memorable either.

Overall, The Grudge had a slow start and minimal scares, but the biggest enjoyment was Kayako’s new look. For those who don’t remember, it was almost like they just dunked her in white paint to make her look like a ghost, but this updated version made her look even more terrifying.

So with mixed feelings towards this franchise, I do hope this is the last and that we don’t see The Grudge films develop into expanding its storyline to different locations across the world.

The Grudge is now playing in cinemas across Australia.

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