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Home | Film Review: The Grudge (2020)

Film Review: The Grudge (2020)


A house is cursed by a vengeful ghost that dooms those who enter it with a violent death.


“A curse that is born when someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage or extreme sorrow.”

Review: Written by Nicolas Pesce, Nicolas Pesce, and Jeff Buhler. Based on Takashi Shimizu’s original screenplay, The Grudge is in theaters on January 3rd but we caught the early showing. The Grudge is based on Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-On. Takashi directed and wrote, Ju-On: The Grudge in 2003 and then The Grudge in 2004. Oh, Happy New Year, although The Grudge isn’t technically the first horror related film, I watched so far this year, (Luz on Shudder is incredible, if you haven’t seen it, watch it.)

The Grudge, a curse, a malevolent, evil curse that goes after everything/everyone in its sights. We meet Fiona Landers (Tara Westwood), she is in Tokyo in 2004 and traveling home to her family. She is leaving the first cursed home and taking the curse home with her. (As if luggage and jet lag isn’t enough. *sigh*) Fiona, Sam Landers (David Lawrence Brown) and Melinda Landers (Zoe Fish) are murdered. The beautiful home that houses the family becomes a character in The Grudge. We learn Fiona brought the curse home with her and it causes her to murder her family, a little later in the film.

The detectives on the case are Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) and Detective Goodman (Demian Bichir). Demian Bichir plays Detective Goodman so well. He takes on the character as a man who has seen too much yet carries on with grace and a case bad nerves. Detective Muldoon lost her husband and she is looking for something to fill a void, take up her time. She has a son, Burke (John J. Hansen) and a dog Frank. (Frank was played by Duke and Bruno the dog and they both did an excellent job.)

Detective Muldoon takes us down memory lane to find out what happened to the families that lived in the house. We are introduced to the Spencer’s. Peter Spencer (John Cho) and Nina Spencer (played incredibly by Betty Gilpin). They are the real estate agents. Peter stops by the house and needs signatures but the house is occupied by the spirits and by William Matheson (Franki Faison) and Faith Matheson (Lin Shaye).

Could we please take a minute and talk about LIN SHAYE! This incredible force of nature. She played Faith with so much sadness yet belief. That may not make sense to some but you may not always recognize Lin Shaye but her eyes say a lot. Lin and Frankie Faison play a married couple who would have almost made it to fifty years of marriage. The two of them are incredible.

Back on track, Detective Goodman wants Detective Muldoon to forget about this case. She doesn’t realize yet it ruined his last partners life. William Sadler plays Detective Wilson. A haunted, beaten down man who winds up institutionalized after what he saw during the Landers’ family murders. Whoever did the make-up for William Sadler, did a good job. I kept thinking about Hannibal during this movie, maybe it was Frankie Faison? Maybe it was the way that Detective Muldoon was sitting with headphones on listening to a tape about murders? Maybe it was William Sadlers make-up/prosthetics?

The special effects in this movie are insane. Peter Spencer takes a shower and we see those creepy fingers coming out of his head as he washes the awful day away. Tara Westwood drooling into Lin Shaye’s mouth was a creepy, unforgettable moment. It was like a rabid animal drooling over the carcass of another animal.

Jackie Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) plays Lorna Moody. We are introduced to Lorna as a victim found in her car after a long time. Lorna assists people who want to end their lives earlier, A Dr. Kevorkian if you will. Lorna has a little bit of Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein from Poltergeist) senses. Lorna winds up seeing the curse. William Matheson called her to assist in ending Faith’s life. Lorna has some rules. You must be mentally competent and Faith is not.

Faith becomes friends with Melinda Landers who wanders all over the house as a spirit. Detective Muldoon is determined to stop the curse. She winds up going into the house and taking some of the curse with her. Tara Westwood who play Fiona plays a loving mother and wife and a vengeful spirit so well. She gives Fiona gusto and a kick. The drool scene was done well. So many of the effects in this film are different.

I imagine with Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Darkman) producing, they were able to kick things up a bit. (off topic, the trailer for a A Quiet Place Part II played and it looks good.) The Newton Brothers who worked on everything from Avengers: Endgame, Mary, Doctor Sleep and more, provided the music composed for The Grudge.

The story goes back and forth so you know what happens to these families.

Faith takes a horrible leap after she is removed from the house. She also cuts her fingers off while she thinks she is chopping vegetables? The film is sort of like a puzzle. You must follow along so Detective Muldoon can piece together what happened. It isn’t jump scares and just blood and gore. There is a sharp tension, an uneasy feeling.

The families in the film are all connected and terrified by this curse. The low-rumble growling of the spirit was interesting to hear again. The Grudge and Ju-On: The Grudge made that tense, low rumble noise that scared a few folks. Detective Muldoon makes a few discoveries, she also visits Detective Wilson in the psychiatric hospital. He advises her to stop. Detective Greco (Joel Marsh Garland) is another person who is sort of laxed and not too sure of the severity.

Nicolas Pesce did a good job with The Grudge. He got this cast to bring forth a lot of energy. Andrea Riseborough did such a great job playing Detective Muldoon. Her eyes say a lot without her having to say a word.  The ending is expected and sort of not expected. Make sure to check out The Grudge, in theaters.

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