The Grudge (2020) Jan 4, 2020 16:23:45 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jan 4, 2020 16:23:45 GMT -5
The Grudge (2020)
Directed by: Nicolas Pesce
Directed by: Nicolas Pesce
The fact that Nicolas Pesce's The Grudge is a reboot of a remake of a Japanese horror film released in January doesn't inspire much confidence. On top of the first week of the month itself being the dumping ground for horror films nobody asked for, yet another installment of the Grudge franchise might as well be a studio's symbolic gesture of waving a white-flag in creative defeat. While not the dire mess I feared, Pesce's "reimagining," as it's also been billed, imagines little besides what it would be like if a studio at least had the guts to release an original work during this time of the season. It worked for Sony with Escape Room, a successful low-budget chiller, a year ago, and a sequel to that flick is slated for release later this year.
On the bright side, Pesce's effort is at least more serviceable than the original American remake, which withers in quality the more I think about it. That film was soiled by its poor handling of the nonlinear handling on top of its soap-opera level acting and appearance. The nonlinear narrative in this reboot is handled far better, meaning it's pleasantly coherent, if still overly expository for a story so simple. In addition, there is a bravery at hand in how gory it often dares to be given the history of the blood-shy supernatural genre. But the ugly color correction and dull drama distills much of the fun right out of what could've ultimately been at least an enjoyable descent into the madness of an unrelenting curse.
Andrea Riseborough stars as Muldoon, a widowed detective working alongside Goodman (Demián Bichir), who are both assigned to investigate the mysterious death of Lorna Moody (Jacki Weaver), whose body is found mangled and decayed in an off-road car accident. While Goodman is hesitant to look into the case following his former partner (William Sadler) being committed after what he happened upon, Muldoon dives in head first into exploring the home (known as the "Landers' home") where it happened. Extensive research leads to her discovering that everyone who has lived in the home has experienced unexplainable trauma and violent deaths.
Former residents of the Landers' home include Faith (Lin Shaye, who has become a staple figure of the supernatural genre) and William (Frankie Faison), who moved into the home after Faith was diagnosed with a brain degenerative disease, as well as Peter (John Cho) and Nina Spencer (Betty Gilpin), an expecting couple who were killed shortly after discovering their child would likely be born with a rare disease. In time, the curse of the Landers' residence affects not only Muldoon but her young son.
Although the characters at hand might be thinly developed eventual victims to unspeakable occurrences, they're at least portrayed by a fine crop of actors evidently chosen for their acting prowess as opposed to marquee recognition. Bichir gives a spirited performance in his limited scenes, Cho, once more, is as likable of an everyman as they come, and Sadler is unnerving in one scene that has him badly disfigured with his arms tightly chained to a desk. It was wise to pick actors with competent skillsets (as opposed to the Sarah Michelle Gellar-headlined remake) given that the story inherently plays more like a Fox police procedural than a horror film at times, with heaps of exposition that would lead you to believe this relatively simplistic story is the second coming of Se7en.
However, the big question at hand is "why?" Besides the obvious, why reboot The Grudge when the script clearly harbors no desire to push the series into any newfound emotional dimensions? The film has nary an iota of explanation behind the phenomenon other than that it is a wicked force that cannot be stopped and consumes everyone who comes in contact with the Landers' home. Long, dull stretches of characters Googling and sifting through old newspaper clippings is made to set the table for the story when, in reality, it's about as exciting as literally folding napkins and lining silverware. To add, even the look of the film inspires little else besides imagery to aid in nodding off to sleep. The dirty sepia-toned color correction that frequently coats the screen appears as if you're looking through the bottom of an unwashed glass. It's a dingy choice for a palette in a picture that's lone attempt at generating fright is through derivative jump-scares.
For what it's worth, occasional attractive wide-shots (as seen as the backdrop over the end credits) and fine camerawork on display shows Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother) is a careful craftsman when it comes to curating atmosphere. Here's hoping that The Grudge at least makes enough money to justify giving Pesce the keys to a Blumhouse or A24 vehicle in the near future so he can cut his teeth on something that doesn't leave his efforts wasted on a milquetoast picture destined to be forgotten by the time the snow melts.
NOTE: I've also started "Stove's Movie Minute" for WALLS 102, the radio station at which I'm currently employed. It'll be a pithy, weekly podcast reviewing the latest movie in theaters. Check out my review of The Grudge here: www.walls102.com/stoves-movie-minute-the-grudge-2020/
My review of The Grudge (2004): stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/6367/grudge-2004?page=1&scrollTo=27930
Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Demián Bichir, John Cho, Betty Gilpin, Jacki Weaver, Lin Shaye, Frankie Faison, William Sadler, and Tara Westwood. Directed by: Nicolas Pesce.