Friday, January 3, 2020

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: The Grudge, Nicolas Pesce

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

2 of 5 viewers "Liked" "The Grudge" (2020, USA)
Creature reviews have been minimally altered in an attempt to maintain their voice:

Huntress - "When we enter the world of The Grudge, it feels familiar. We meet our cast in their most withered, helpless, or raving moments, but we won’t find out how they got there until several storylines and time shifts later. We’re given the year of each major event in the overall story, but what we actually watch feels like it’s set four decades before the given year. (The Grudge house also appears to be in Haddonfield, but that’s a different story.) The movie feels familiar not because it’s a remake, but because it’s a Nicolas Pesce movie. It was subtly time lost, and we got to know our characters’ stories out of order, two elements that The Eyes of My Mother and Piercing both had, although executed very differently. The children in this movie were unfortunately mechanical, but the sheer insanity that Lin Shaye brought to the screen made up for them. And the gore was great with the exception of one questionable nosebleed. There were some anti-climatic moments and it felt like one of the characters had seen the original movie with how quickly he pieced everything together, but overall The Grudge is one of the better January releases as far as I’m concerned. It was indiscriminately violent and realistically shocking. It gave me a lot to think about, which I can’t say about many movies. Of course it would have been better if it was its own thing, especially since most ties to The Grudge felt a little forced, but the worst part of seeing this was the rest of the audience." - 3.5 Stars

The Impostor - "Sadly, The Grudge (2020) didn't start off the year on a high note. With its R rating and director attached whose films I enjoyed, I was excited and all in. While the film's cinematography and acting were great, the overall film kind of bored me. The ghosts weren't as scary as I remember Kyoko being in the original 2004 The Grudge, but the movie had a few effective jump-scares. I would have hella liked to see Kyoko and Toshio in an R rated setting, but instead we got a watered down American family that weren't as effective with the scares for me. I also thought The Grudge (2020) was a remake of the 2004 version but it's actually The Grudge 4, taking place during the same time of the events of The Grudge (2004). I will say the posters and fan art for The Grudge are great. Lots of the promo art and teasers feature the creepy hair that barely makes the final cut of the movie. Overall a weak start to the year for horror but hopefully the planned sequels for this pan out and are a bit more exciting." - 2.5 Stars

Wondering Panda - "Horror movies in January. Aww boy. So The Grudge (2020) is a very stripped down, boring take of the franchise. I had low expectations coming in, but wow that was bad. The film pays homage to the original Ju-On by showing the original house in one quick scene outside and that's it!! One shining light is Lin Shaye, who genuinely looks like she's having fun in her role. All in all if you guys want to watch this film be our guest, but we bit the bullet so you won't have to."  - 2 stars

Lord Battle - "2020 kicks off with Nicolas Pesce's The Grudge, easily the most interesting horror project slated as an outta the gates dump in the past decade. Unfortunately, it's exactly what I feared, an extremely stylish indie horror director trying to find his voice in a heavily produced franchise reboot. If we take a look at The Grudge using the auteur theory, Pesce's voice is present only in the form of a slow uncertain build that added so much to the climax of The Eyes of My Mother and swelled the mystery of Piercing, only hinders this film and its unnecessary non-liniar narrative. To be frank, the film's only bad because it's boring. The Grudge is so boring that it manages to allow Lin Shaye's bonkers performance to get lost! Seriously, if you need a reason to see Nicolas Pesce's The Grudge, just know that Lin Shaye cuts off her own fingers, jumps from a Vertigo-esk stairwell, and delivers a stellar performance while doing it. Harold (-Kumar) is also there and he's contemplating abortion (which is important for some reason?). Oh, and CGI fire! Why the CGI fire?! - 2.5 Stars

Math Mage - *Message received a day late, sent via cellphone* - "I liked it. Had good pacing and atmosphere, the jump-scares and gore actually made it less scary. Particularly the terrible CG blood, and I question the decision to computer generate an unconvincing dummy of Lin Shaye. It seems like the film might have benefited from a lower budget, so that there would be more incentive to be creative. Particularly around the imagery that wasn't lifted wholly from the original films. Additional note: the ending theme apparently doesn't exist. It's a terrible song that starts with: "I'm watching the static on the TV and my eyes are bleeding!". So I Shazamed it and got nothing, googling the full title also did nothing." - 3.5 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

Packed! The damn theatre was packed! Well... it was at least 88% full, which is insane for a 7PM Thursday night horror movie. At first, we thought this was a Winter Break thing, but Nicolas Pesce's The Grudge is rated R and there were practically no teenagers to be seen. Honestly, it looked more like a date night convention, with many a couple to be seen (I know because we sat up front and I turned around 👀😁). This unusual crowd really made me happy. Digesting films in a large group is a fading part of the experience especially when it happens to be a reboot of a cultural remake/sequel (we attended a Ju-On screening a couple years ago at the Little Roxie where the director mentioned that the Sarah Michelle Gellar entry was actually cannon).

Then the downsides of a packed theatre started to rear their ugly heads. We had to sit in the third row from the screen, which honestly doesn't bother me as I like to sit up front, but I understand is a deal breaker for many. The Impostor sat next to a dude whose girlfriend was 100% in the film, while he checked his phone every 5 minutes. And I had the pleasure of waiting for the family of 6+ to take their seats at the 40 minute mark, as they arrived late and preceded to chat throughout the whole film... I should add that the couple of jump-scares that worked in the film killed with all of these casual lame-o's and nothing beats a row of people jumping/screaming.

-Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a Century Theater for a screening on 1/2/2019
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

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