• Maxwell J.

Review: The Grudge (2020) Will Curse Any Audience Member Who Dares to Watch More Than Twenty Minutes

Updated: Jan 28, 2020

Limping into theaters this January is Nicolas Pesce’s The Grudge (2020), the third official remake, and second American remake, of the popular Japanese film Ju-On (2000) directed by Takashi Shimizu. I was cautiously optimistic thinking that The Grudge might be a surprisingly fun start to 2020, much like last year’s Escape Room was for 2019. Sadly, I was wrong.




The 2020 adaptation of The Grudge stars Andrea Riseborough as Detective Muldoon, a policewoman who moved to a new city with her son to start over after her husband died of cancer. Her first day on the job, she and her partner Detective Goodman (Demián Birchir) respond to a call about a dead body found in a car out in the woods. After a few moments, it is determined that the woman found dead in the car had a connection to a house where a triple homicide occurred just two years prior. Determined to get to the bottom of the case, Detective Muldoon arrives at the house where the murder took place and discovers an elderly woman living in squalor. Soon she will learn that all people who enter the house are haunted by an evil curse.


Quite simply The Grudge is a mess of a film, lacking any sense of direction. The rules of the curse central to the film change for the convenience of plot, never really deciding on how the curse can begin or end. Almost every single scare in the film can be predicted without paying much attention. One scene, in particular, involving a light switch may have been interesting on paper, but the finished product is painstakingly boring and drawn out. There is very little mystery or surprise, which is a problem for a film whose central premise revolves around a mysterious curse. Formulaic and underwhelming, each scene begins only for it to crawl into the next, lacking the passion or soul necessary to hold anyone’s interest. Additionally, it is hard to feel sympathy for any of the characters since they are consumed so quickly by the curse we do not get to know them adequately.


Speaking of which, the is a mess of a film, lacking any sense of direction. The rules of the curse central to the film change for the convenience of the plot, never really deciding on how the curse can begin or end. Almost every single scare in the film can be predicted without paying much attention. One scene, in particular, involving a light switch may have been interesting on paper, but the finished product is painstakingly boring and drawn out. There is very little mystery or surprise, which is a problem for a film whose central premise revolves around a mysterious curse. Formulaic and underwhelming, each scene begins only for it to crawl into the next, lacking the passion or soul necessary to hold anyone’s interest. Additionally, it is hard to feel sympathy for any of the characters since they are consumed so quickly by the curse we do not get to know them adequately.




While much is wrong with The Grudge, it is not without some merit. John Cho and Betty Gilpin, who play Peter and Nina Spencer respectively, did their best to make their character’s plight seem sympathetic and real. Their performance as a real estate power couple struggling to come to terms with their unborn child’s potential lifelong disability injects some life into the film before withering away in the final act. The Grudge stays true to the franchise by keeping the nonlinear narrative structure while adding some depth to the plot by focusing more on the vantage point of the investigators.


The Grudge is a joyless and derivative attempt to cash in on the successful formula Japan and other Asian countries have utilized to create truly terrifying tales of the supernatural. Save your money, wait until it ends up on Amazon Prime. Or better yet, check out the original Japanese Ju-On (2000) or Ju-On: The Grudge (2002) if you want to be truly spooked.


Overall Score? 3.5/10

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