The Grudge (2020) Is Not Only Terrible, But Doesn’t Fit With The Franchise

The Grudge

The Grudge (2020) Is Not Only Terrible, But Doesn’t Fit With The Franchise

I am a big fan of the ‘Grudge’ series. The original J-Horror films (known as Ju-On) are fantastic, and even the original American remakes are great. So, when the 2020 film was released, I was excited. I enthusiastically went to the cinema to go and see this, blissfully ignorant of the bad reviews the new entry had been constantly given.

I should’ve listened/read those reviews.



Because they were a warning; a warning to the complete abomination that is ‘The Grudge’ (2020). As I came out of the cinema (where the audience loudly exclaimed ‘what on Earth was that?!’ as the end credits started rolling), I started thinking more and more about the film. And the more I thought about what I had just witnessed, the more I realized that, not is the film terrible, but it also doesn’t work as a ‘Grudge’ film. Before I talk about why it doesn’t fit into the franchise, let’s talk about the film itself.

‘The Grudge (2020)’ is a complete misfire in every aspect possible. While it features some fantastic actors, the cast did their best with what little they were given. Andrea Riseborough (Mandy, Oblivion, Birdman) plays lead character Detective Muldoon, who becomes obsessed with the Grudge haunting, and accidently becomes cursed. While she really tries with nothing to do, it still isn’t enough, and she struggles to carry the film. Furthermore, the editing and pacing are a mess. Short shots were left in that went nowhere.

While the first two American remakes weren’t masterpieces of horror, they were still decent, and they respected the source material. However, this was because the original creator, Takashi Shimizu, was heavily involved in the story and directed the two films. This film, however, had none of the original team involved. It was also written and directed by a first-time director Nicolas Pesce (his previous, and first piece of film work, was an animated short). I’m not wanting to discourage first-time directors from making a feature film; I usually support it. However, Pesce should’ve had another writer or director overlooking the project in order to tighten the plot and pacing. Especially given that this is the latest instalment of an 18-year old franchise.

One aspect of a Horror film that is rarely done correctly is the jumpscare. They are a cheap way to startle its audiences and aren’t scary. Being startled and being scared are two different things and this film could really learn that lesson. One particular scene has a build-up that goes on for far too long, to the point where the audience in my cinema were getting audibly frustrated. And this type of scare is frequent throughout the film, making it dull and unimaginative as a Horror film.

As I mentioned earlier, not only is ‘The Grudge (2020)’ an awful film, but it also doesn’t fit in with the rest of the franchise. Please note that the below information may contain spoilers.

The film features three different storylines that take place across three different years. According to IMDb, this entry takes place between the storylines of the first two American ‘Grudge’ films. Which is fine…except ‘The Grudge 2’ was released nearly 14 years ago, making the timeline choices meaningless.

And, lastly, the whole plot shouldn’t even exist; the idea of the Grudge curse is that once someone dies in a state of extreme rage or sadness, their spirit stays in the place they died. If a person meets that location, and furthermore, spirit then they become cursed. The film opens with a woman who was working in the original house (that’s featured in the previous films), stating that she can’t work there anymore. She then goes back to her house and eventually kills her husband and daughter, moving the curse to her home.

Except it’s not a disease.

The woman who moved out of the original house shouldn’t have been able to haunt her home and, therefore, curse the rest of her family by killing them. The haunting of her daughter, Melissa, makes even less sense. The reason for this is because the film never shows us that the husband and daughter died in a state of extreme rage or sadness. If anything, they would’ve felt a sense of confusion because the change in the woman’s behaviour happens so quickly.

Overall ‘The Grudge (2020)’ is dull, unimaginative and doesn’t work as a ‘Grudge’ film. Instead of seeing this, I would highly recommend either the original Japanese films, or the previous American remakes. Avoid this like it’s the actual curse.


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Megan’s taste in films are interesting: her favourite films are ‘Space Jam’, Studio Ghibli’s ‘The Cat Returns’, as well as horror films ‘Saw’, ‘Drag Me To Hell’ and ‘Ju-On: The Grudge’. When she’s not watching films, she’ll be spending precious hours playing ‘Crash Bandicoot’.

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