Let’s get bitter.
The original Grudge has a cult following, so it shouldn’t be surprising they tried to give it a reboot. We have a talented cast and the excellent Nicolas Pesce (who did Eyes of My Mother) behind the camera. Expectations should have been high for this one. However, something just went off the rails.
We primarily follow Detective Muldoon (Andrea Risenborough) as she begins digging into an old case(s) where death seems to be following folks who go into a house. She goes into the house and starts seeing stuff. I figure that most people know the story to this one. A haunted house is so haunted that just entering it once is a death sentence.
Anyway, the film wants to be serious. Everything is done seriously. We drive seriously. We look at dead bodies seriously. The directing wants to be more in the vein of Eyes of My Mother but is trying to do so with a slightly amped up teen scream. The story never has the gravitas that the framing is trying to portray, so it all comes off as a little silly.
It is weird to see a film where the actors are trying so hard to make something work. Simply put, the story isn’t interesting enough to allow enough room for character development. We also have the issue of too many stories. We have our lead cop, her partner and his story, his old partner and his story, the original family, the second family, the third family, the realtor’s family, a callback to the original house, and I feel like I’m missing one.
With that much stuff you’re never going to have a cohesive 90 minutes. Any other issue with the film can be ignored due to this major narrative flaw. The script basically demanded that the whole thing turn into a failure.
However, we’re still going to point out other major issues. I’m not sure if they were wanting to make a horror film or a spookier True Detective episode, but we end up with Turd Dedunktive. (Hey, I thought it was clever). With the mixture of cop drama and horror we could have had something fresh, and even amidst the failures here there is a certain glimpse of freshness. The cop drama stuff works okay when the film focuses there.
The horror elements do not work at all. It would be fun (read: annoying) to make a compilation of all of the jump scares in this movie. If you watched the clips, you’d notice that some of them are of decent quality but sandwiched between so many they don’t work at all. Once the audience is given a jump scare, they know to expect it. Filmmakers need to understand that the only effective jump scare is the first one—after that they will lose power with each new one. The VVitch has one jump moment and it works because it comes so late and we aren’t expecting it.
This will probably end up on the worst of the year list. I think it is not worth the time.