THE GRUDGE (2020) Reviews and overview

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‘It will never let you go’
The Grudge is a 2020 American-Canadian supernatural horror feature film directed by Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother) from a screenplay by Jeff Buhler (Pet Sematary; The ProdigyThe Midnight Meat Train).

The movie stars Andrea Riseborough (Mandy), Lin Shaye (Insidious franchise), Demian Bichir (The Nun), John Cho (The Exorcist TV series), Betty Gilpin, William Sadler (The Mist), Jacki Weaver and Frankie Faison.

The Ghost House Pictures-Good Universe production is a reboot of the 2004 US pic (itself based on the 2002 Japanese original Ju-on). There has already been a dozen Ju-On/The Grudge feature films, two short films, a video game and a number of graphic novels.

Andrea Riseborough plays “a single mother who’s also a police detective” and there is “a house is cursed by a vengeful ghost that dooms those who enter it with a violent death.’ The timeline takes place during the events of The Grudge in 2004.


“In trying to pay homage to Japanese horror and carve out something different, this new entry fails embarrassingly at both. In fact, the movie fails at virtually everything it tries: Mystery, romance, pathos, basic banter, casual conversation and, sadly, solid chills crash with a mind-numbing thud.” Arrow in the Head

“It seems clear that the filmmakers know that these movies are scary, and that they don’t want anyone in the audience to be confused and accidentally have a good time. But by draining the film of its liveliness they remove all the contrasts that make the terrors so terrifying. The new The Grudge is a whole mood but not a whole movie.” Bloody Disgusting

“It’s an incredibly slow-paced bore that spends more time trying to solve a mystery that doesn’t exist than it does trying to scare its audience or its characters. It’s edited in a way that is either desperately trying to make a mess watchable or obscure us from how messy the entire production is. The Grudge is another jump startle movie…” CineMarter

“It’s as by-the-numbers as it gets. If I had to point out some highlights, I guess it’d be Lin Shaye’s demented performance – but by now, the horror stalwart can do this shtick in her sleep. Riseborough has proven to be a formidable screen presence – as have Bichir, Cho, Gilpin, and Weaver – but they all struggle to emote anything real amidst all this fabricated murk.” Film Threat

” …yes, it’s scary. Pesce’s art-film roots are evident in the movie’s slow-burn first hour. But in the final third, The Grudge piles on the explicit gore and jump scares — all leading to a final scene and final shot as terrifying as anything in the original series.” Los Angeles Times

“Many atrocities ensue, but they quickly become rote rather than chilling […] Pesce throws in a sort of best-of-murders montage toward the end, which really says something about vamping for time in a 94-minute movie. Time that could have been spent explaining how the original ju-on came to be.” New York Post

” …the jumps are well-managed, the film feels of a piece with the other movies in the series, and Pesce orchestrates one exquisite twist that offers a completely different angle on the whole life-after-death thing. He punctures it almost immediately, but that’s also entirely of a piece with this franchise.” Now Toronto

“There’s a lot of peekaboos in The Grudge, too many for what makes the movie good, and by the third act they feel like an awkward part of the transaction in watching a horror film made by a studio that needs a good trailer. Yet while it’s not very good at being scary, The Grudge excels at being unsettling.”

” …things keep devolving into a sort of “stock beats” catalog of J-scares that goes from déjà vu to dullness to deadening as The Grudge’s running time marches on. It’s as if the director has been forced to spin an arrow to choose what comes next. Oh, it’s landed on an abundance of flies.” Rolling Stone

“Even worse than some sloppy, amateurish creation, this is a minimally competent personality vacuum that, in spite of its gorier approach to horror compared to the original, can’t match Shimizu’s flair for memorable imagery. Shimizu’s specters always looked wrong, with ghastly white appearances that made their presence seem jarring. By comparison, Pesce’s nondescript ghosts just look interchangeable.” Slant magazine

The Grudge is more horrifying than any horror movie — because it’s boring. The cheap scares and thin plot do nothing but… well, make you hold a grudge against it.” Smash Cut

” …Fine, Pesce seems to say, you won’t let me have color in my visuals? Well, here’s some intense, almost ridiculous-in-practice gore to add some paint to these wallsYou want a sequel and re-imagining of this property? Well, here’s four. You want jump scares? Here’s 40. And that behind the scenes push-and-pull often makes for more compelling filmmaking than we’re willing to admit.” Vanyaland

” …a reboot of a remake of a film that wasn’t all that scary to begin with […] The Grudge plods on as if it were something more than formula gunk, cutting back and forth among the thinly written unfortunates who’ve been touched by the curse of that house.” Variety

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The Grudge was given an ‘R’ rating by the MPAA for “disturbing violence and bloody images, terror and some language.” viewed footage from The Grudge that was shown at the New York ComicCon (NYCC) and reported:

“The first footage is done much like IT: Chapter Two‘s first trailer, featuring a scene of Riseborough’s detective investigating the home of Shaye’s elderly lady character. The detective quickly discerns something is wrong, as Shaye is shown to be dishevelled and panicked, eventually revealing blackened, severed fingers on one hand, and the maggot-ridden corpse of her husband seated in a chair.

A montage of footage plays that shows the familiar iconography of the series, with a shower scene and ghost hands featuring John Cho, and the familiar sight of the horrible long-haired ghost girl rising up from watery depths. There’s also a lot of shots of real bloody injury and death being featured, hammering home that this an R-rated version of The Grudge that fans hoped for.”

Meanwhile, director Nicolas Pesce, producer Sam Raimi, plus stars Betty Gilpin and Lin Shaye comprised a Q&A panel at the same ComicCon event. Raimi was keen to assuage any fans’ doubt regarding the reboot: “The key is injecting new life through performers and a director of this calibre.”, he said. Lin Shaye added: “I never get to be this f*cked up in a movie.”


The Grudge was originally due to be released on June 21, 2019. However, this was changed to January 3, 2020.

Previously, Lin Shaye plugged the film at the San Diego ComicCon, saying: “Wait until you see this. It’s the scariest movie I’ve ever been a part of, not even maybe. Not even maybe. And it’s the scariest part I’ve ever had, bar none. I think it comes out next August, I’m very excited about it. The horror fans are going to go insane, that I can promise.” Shaye continued, “What will make it really different is Nicolas Pesce, who is the writer/director, who is extraordinary. I mean he’s a real visionary.”

Producer Sam Raimi has said: “We are so excited about this new adaptation. We went back to the original source material to deliver a relentless supernatural thrill ride that explores the horrors of American suburbia.”

Cast and characters:

  • Tara Westwood … Fiona Landers
  • Junko Bailey … Kayako Ghost
  • David Lawrence Brown … Sam Landers
  • Zoe Fish … Melinda Landers
  • Andrea Riseborough … Detective Muldoon
  • John J. Hansen … Burke
  • Demián Bichir … Goodman
  • Joel Marsh Garland … Detective Greco
  • Bradley Sawatzky … Officer Michaels
  • Duke … Frank the Dog
  • Bruno The Dog … Frank the Dog
  • Lin Shaye … Faith Matheson
  • John Cho … Peter Spencer
  • Betty Gilpin … Nina Spencer
  • Stephanie Sy … Amnio Nurse
  • Steven Ratzlaff … Doctor Maher
  • Marina Stephenson Kerr … Woman Neighbor
  • Jacki Weaver … Lorna Moody
  • Frankie Faison … William Matheson
  • William Sadler … Detective Wilson
  • Maria Anne Grant … Orderly
  • Nancy Sorel … Agent Cole
  • Ray Strachan … Agent Horne
  • Adam Brooks … Agent Palmer
  • Ernesto Griffith … Psychiatric Hospital Orderly
  • Tracy Penner … Nurse

Filming locations:

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Technical details:

93 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.39: 1

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