“The Grudge” (2020) Film Review

J’s Verdict  

What else can you really do with The Grudge? That’s what I was thinking when I heard yet another film was coming – not a complete reboot but a story taking place alongside 2004’s film. And that’s what I was thinking when the opening titles state how one cannot escape the grip of a powerful rage. How many more times can you tell a non linear tale with this particular curse.

Well, Writer/Director Nicolas Pesce’s take on The Grudge certainly feels different from other instalments. It’s set in America, features other tormented souls other than Kayako and there’s an art film / indie film feel to what’s unfolding. That gives it a whole different vibe.

And there’s the cast of characters played by a group of wonderful character actors – John Cho, Lin Shaye, Andrea Riseborough, Damían Bichir – with storylines that have interesting beginnings.

However, at 95 minutes, the film feels rushed to get to a scare, leaving these storylines probably cut on the editing floor. Before I can even get to know them, something spooky is happening that takes that potential away from these characters. Leaving interesting set ups but no pay off.

It doesn’t help matters that the music can be too invasive and doesn’t give a moment time to breathe and it doesn’t help that these talented actors don’t get a lot of depth to really bring what should be their emotional moments to life. It just feels too busy.

So how’s the scares? Largely hit and miss. This is partially due to the script itself not being engaging and partially due to the idea that…we’ve just seen this all before. There are some moments that are effective and work for me, some creepy reveals here or there, but what it comes down to in the end is a nagging sense of déjà vu about the whole thing.

In the end, I like the cast and I like Nicolas Pesce as a director but this film largely doesn’t work because of a script that’s too busy with its large cast of characters.

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