by Elijah de Castro
In recent years, the horror genre has been making a dramatic comeback. Ari Asters horrific family drama “Hereditary”. Trey Edward Shults’ subversive vision of post-apocalypse in “It Comes At Night”. Luca Guadagnino’s hypnotic “Suspiria” remake. All have injected hope into a genre that has (with exception) been selling itself out for the past decade.
However, a new decade is upon us. And if “The Grudge” is the leading figure of 2020’s horror, the aforementioned comeback is doomed. Of course, this is just hyperbole, as January has historically been the dumping grounds for films that studios don’t know what to do with.
“The Grudge” is very much a January release.
The story of “The Grudge” is indistinguishable with other horror films of this caliber. The film is not intending to tell a coherent story or create substantial scenes. The film is an excuse for vignettes of senseless horror, to get the innocent female lead in a hallway, and to have a monster suddenly appear in front of her, getting a cheap scream from the audience. If that is the bar that one holds for the horror genre, “The Grudge” will entertain.
Instead of taking the hard road to create the layered, unsettling horror that has revived contemporary horror, “The Grudge” takes the easy road. These jump scares are so frequent, they seem to attempt to mask the lack of real tension, the kind that challenges the mind rather than jolting the body.
Nevermind the lifeless acting, ugly colors, and lazy camerawork. The true failure of the film is found in its foundation, the very core of its existence. Instead of attempting to create a maze of psychological layers, concepts, and creative ideas that makes horror so appealing, the filmmakers have settled for pandering to the lowest common denominator.
“The Grudge” has no substance to chew on, no interesting characters to attach to, and no memorable story to keep itself relevant. The critical failure began in its conception, not in the potential it wastes along the way. Even audiences who walk in hoping for jump scares will not find themselves remembering the film in a months time.