Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE GRUDGE (2019)

THE GRUDGE (2019) was BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS balls. One of the most boring horror films I have ever seen.

Where to begin after that statement? This is one of the most unnecessary reboots of all time, and for some God damn reason, it happens to be even WORSE than the schlocky 2004 American remake that starred Sarah Michelle Gellar (we don’t talk about those two sequels, nor have I seen them). Which had its charms as I thought the mom and young boy ghosts were creepy as fuck at the time. NOTHING about this film is creepy. While this is more of a sidequel (side-sequel) reboot, in that a woman brings back The Grudge curse to the United States after being in that house in Japan that was in the American remake, this film couldn’t be more far off from The Grudge brand. Which, I get it, you want to do something different. But when that different so blatantly rips off other genre ghost and ghouls, then you have a giant copycat problem. The original ghost creepy mom from the American remake is in this for about 5 seconds at the very beginning of the film, but when that person makes it back to the United States, it evolves into its own monster. Both figuratively, literally, and metaphorically. None of these new ghosts were in any way scary, frightful, what have you; they all just seemed like Walking Dead-esque flesh rotting zombies. No cool pale opened mouthed ghosts with that eerie sound (we get an updated eerie sound and it isn’t really eerie at all) like we got 15 years ago. All just very bland and underwhelming.

And it copycats The Grudge formula of going back and forth and back and forth between different time periods, 2004 then 2006, and then I think several months to a year after that, (since it is a side-sequel, it has to take place when the American remake took place). While I found everything easy to understand (which time period I was in), it probably went back and fourth one too many times where I wouldn’t fault anybody for getting confused about half way through it. The non-linear structure is very sloppy, lazy and un-organized here, which will probably off put some people. Also, plot holes galore. If you know the original Grudge films, even the Japanese originals, you’ll know that “the Grudge” is a curse that is spawned whenever when someone dies in the grip of extreme rage or sorrow. And then when anyone steps into that house where the curse was starting, that curse follows you and never lets you go. Unless you burn down the house I guess (still kind of hazy on how the curse is supposed to be lifted. The new one tries to expand upon the curse but instead just gives us an obligatory sequel scene that I have no intention of following up on if another film happens to get made. The plot hole I was talking about. The new main girl character, played by Andrea Risenborough, find a body and a insane old woman in a new cursed house in the United States, and she calls it in. About 40 minutes go by before we are told via dialogue what happened with her call in, that the case was taken over by the FBI.

If that was to set up a potential sequel, where an FBI agent or two entered the house and fell upon the curse, I get the set up, but to me, it felt like dialogue to explain away events without having to show them for budget reasons. It would’ve been cool if it had showed that the FBI knew and believed in that curse, and found a way to get that body out of there without stepping foot inside the house, and also a way to get the insane old woman out of there as well. Then the movie would’ve been somewhat unique and had maybe one interesting sequence. Instead, it is just explained that the FBI took over the case via dialogue once the main character finds what she finds inside the house, and it doesn’t explain how they got the women out, or the body, or if anyone stepped inside the house. There even could’ve been a short after credit sequence maybe showing a new FBI character stepping inside the house to further develop and close that big plot hole, but nope, never brought up again, just has a scene with the old insane women in a mental facility…ROAMING AROUND FREELY NO LESS!!! And considering what she did to end up there (I won’t divulge anything due to spoilers)…but that MADE NO FUCKING SENSE WHATSOEVER.

Also characters say to other, possibly much younger characters that they are going to do whatever it takes to protect them, right as they drive up and park near the cursed house with that awful line of dialogue, “whatever happens, STAY IN THIS CAR!” It’s all eye rolling. So is the acting. Several times, while Andrea Risenbrough is doing research or looking over security footage (she plays a cop) of the past murders in the house, she looks like she’s about to take a shit. Betty Gilpin, Jackie Weaver, and John Cho are in this too, but everything about their wooden performances scream paycheck. Even Demian Bichir (who plays another cop), who famously hams up and has a little fun with most of his roles (especially in any Robert Rodriguez disaster), seems bored here. The film has only one good little story tidbit, and that is Gilpin and Cho’s characters finding out that their unborn child might have ADL and how they are going to deal with it, is quickly interrupted by a fast and grim as fuck resolution. Oh you want me to talk about cinematography and direction? I’m not going to bother, a small child could’ve made a better and scarier film than this.

I’m going to try and end my review with this paragraph, because I simply don’t want to talk about this movie that is more than likely going to stay on my top ten worst list of 2020 already. I could talk about how the movie wastes its R rating, I could talk about the weird editing/transition choices that elicited unintentional laughing moments not just for me, but for the audience I was watching this disaster with. I could talk about how there are no earned scares and that even the dumb cheap jump scares don’t even start until after half the movie is already over (this made me ass out to pass out quickly, which is a term I use for when I turn and lie on my side, about to fall asleep in my luxury lounger). This all boils down to it being a “fool me a shit ton of times, shame on me” type situation, as I should know by now that the first week (and mostly first month) of new film releases each and every new year has always been, and always will be, bad. But yet I keep trying to give some films the benefit of the doubt, like this one, because the trailer seemed interesting, and it was slapped with an R rating (the rest were PG-13), and it looked liked it was trying to do something different. But it is all just the same dumb, boring, cheap jump scare crap that lacks any originality whatsoever. Is it possible to create a good curse where one dies in the theater of extreme rage or sorrow by having to watch a shitty January film that maybe studios won’t gamble on shit like this anymore and we can get some half way decent material for the future years to come? The funny fellows on RedLetterMedia.com have labeled the beginning of a new year movie season each with a “Fuck you, it’s January!” video. Describing how it will never change and is basically a “Fuck you, it’s Forever!” kind of affair. Well, fuck me, it is January, and I’ve already been eye raped by one of the year’s worst films. Thanks Sam Raimi…

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