Terror Almost Goes Viral in Hulu Original: Grimcutty (2022)
First Non-Festival Release: October 10, 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: John Ross
Writer: John Ross
Runtime: 101 Minutes
Starring: Sara Wolfkin, Shannyn Sossamon, Usman Ally
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
A viral social media challenge leads to tragedy after one parent finds themselves on the wrong end of the knife, courtesy of their son. News spreads across town to the Chaudhry household that the Grimcutty challenge was responsible. Asha (Sara Wolfkin) is an aspiring ASMR youtuber who recently quit the track team, which has led to her parents Leah (Shannyn Sossamon) and Amir (Usman Ally) cracking down on her screentime along with her brother Kamran (Callan Farris). The news of this internet monstrosity has caused Leah and Amir to be extra controlling of their kid’s virtual lives. Despite their best efforts, the Grimcutty finds a way into their home, tormenting Asha and leaving her parents to believe that she is hurting herself on purpose.
Great conceptual horror steeped in unique social commentary is marred by mediocre execution in Grimcutty.
Let’s not mince words. On a technical level Grimcutty is not a good film, and most of that starts with its eyebrow raising script. Much isn’t explained behind the Grimcutty, which isn’t bad in of itself but leads to many plot holes that are worth mentioning. Eventually, Asha goes down the rabbit hole to discover the origin of Grimcutty in her neighborhood. The person Asha blames for starting this, didn’t conjure up this idea by themselves, so how does her research bring her to this despite having the entire internet at her disposal? Little issues like this pepper the narrative of Grimcutty which makes it difficult to take seriously as an overall story. Even though the actual narrative suffers from a lack of development, the messaging gets at some unique ideas.
What could have been a tired tech horror focused on maligning young people subverts expectations by placing the blame elsewhere. Instead of laying everything on the social media obsessed teenagers, instead the parent’s anxieties fuel the attacks by the eponymous monster. This phenomenon directly correlates to the real-life phenomena of helicopter parenting and misinformation targeted towards older generations on the internet. Understandably, parents want to protect their children from the vastness and cruelty of the online world but overdoing it harms them.
The only way to combat the attacks is for the parents to control their nerves or for the children to cut off the source of their problems: their parents. This concept is compelling if only for the real-world applications. Children do not get to control their environments in the way that the adults in their lives can. They are often at the mercy of well-intentioned adults who make decisions without getting their input. Despite both Asha and Kamran being as honest as they can with their parents, while still making questionable decisions, they are met with distrust and discipline. This is where rifts begin to form in real-life where children learn that they cannot count on family to stay safe and that their peace is managed when they conceal or cut off contact completely.
Grating performances and unbelievable character development muddles the very message behind Grimcutty. The main cast struggles to emote and take the film seriously which leads to their dodgy performances. Shannyn Sossamon hones it in as the mother at her wit’s end with her children before seemingly having an epiphany out of nowhere that diverts her attention toward consoling her husband. Terrible writing is responsible for the about face but Sossamon doesn’t do much to give credence to the change either. This criticism isn’t just reserved for her either. It’s a problem pervasive throughout the film where characters are given little agency or reason for their decisions.
Along with the inauthentic portrayals from the cast, the horror behind Grimcutty is neutered in the worst ways. The computer-generated monstrosity of a horror villain looks like a bloody Humpty Dumpty. It is so hideously rendered that it looks out-of-place in a film with decent production values. How can the monster strike fear into the hearts of viewers when it looks like a goofier version of a Playstation 2 video game boss battle opponent? Beyond the look of the Grimcutty itself, the approach to horror is lacking. Without any serious buildup or tension, the scares always seem so mundane and predictable. Whether it is by lazy camerawork or repetition of the same scare over and over again, Grimcutty fails at it.
Despite all of its glaring flaws, Grimcutty is an honest attempt at techno-horror with a surprisingly poignant message. For all its faults, and there are many faults, including but not limited to its clunky plot, rough performances, cringeworthy special effects work, and uninspired direction, it still manages to be an entertaining time. Had more time been devoted to addressing these issues, this film could have been more impactful than it was.Tread lightly on this outing, horror lovers, as only those with the steadiest minds can overcome the horrors, and unintentional laughs, that come from the Grimcutty.
Overall Score? 5/10