The Grudge (2020) Movie Review

A curse is born

A novel attempt at non-linear storytelling of a horror story, with an already exploited-for-all-its-worth Ju-on (The Grudge) franchise failing to impress and scare even kids, making the R-rating highly irrelevant.

Movie Synopsis: 

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

IMDB Rating: 4.8/ 10

My Rating: 3.5/ 10


When someone dies in the grip of rage, a curse is born. 

The curse gathers in that place of death. 

Once you enter, it will never let you go.

The movie starts off with these ominous opening lines, giving you goosebumps. But wait, what?? The previous versions started with a similar text as well? Well, chuck it, I haven’t seen the previous versions, so I’m allowed to be excited about those lines, ok? Yea…they set the tone for… for…

Set the tone, my foot!!!

I don’t use cuss words but if I did, I’d have filled this review with a lot of them for the movie. 

It’s the first horror film of 2020 and it was expected to start off the new year with a Bang. Well, it did Bang… its-head-against-a-wall kinda bang. The movie starts off from Tokyo, in 2004, paying tribute to the original series and shows us how the ghost/ spirit shifted base from Tokyo to Pennsylvania (obviously because it got outdated in Japan, anyone would after 3 sequels), while being attached to a woman named Fiona Landers. Even after flying probably for more than 20-24 hours, the ghost doesn’t seem jetlagged and wastes no time in getting to work killing off the Landers family probably. Now, that’s called dedication to one’s craft. They should feature this in some motivational video – it’ll definitely get people charged up. 

The story then moves off to 2006, where the protagonist, Det. Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough), a cop who’s moved to a new town, looking for distractions and trying to cope with the death of her husband due to cancer. A body found in the woods of a woman named Lorna Moody and an offhand remark by a constable/ policeman about how it seems to be connected to the Landers murders, is enough to set off Det. Muldoon investigating the case as if someone possessed. Mind you, there’s no explanation given of how & why the constable thought the woman’s body might be in anyway connected to the Landers case. 

Once her investigation starts, the movie falls into what’s called a pseudo-intellectual trap. Not everyone can be Nolan & non-linear storytelling is an art best left to masters like him. The story switches from the present, Det. Muldoon’s story of 2006 to John Cho’s emotional drama in 2004 to Lin Shaye’s madness filled world of 2005. The non-linear storytelling from then on fails to impress or keep you hooked even with brilliant actors like John Cho & Lin Shaye (a permanent member of the Horror Movie Club – check out her IMDB). 


There’s some scenes which are so illogical and so inconsistent that you cannot help but feel sad for the actors.

Det. Goodman, one of the original cops on the Landers case, manages to investigate the murders, supposedly without even stepping into the house. That’s the only explanation which had kept him safe right until the end.

John Cho, shown to be a real estate seller, stops off at the Landers to take their signatures on some final documents for selling their house. He keeps knocking on the front door, but nobody answers the door. Then he’s shown to find the door locked which he opens using a key he has, or he retrieves it from some secret compartment and then opens the door.

What does he do after opening the locked door? Guess?

“Hello… anybody home???”

Yes, we are all having tea, but we just like to lock our doors from outside so that people don’t disturb us. Now that you’re here why don’t you join us? 

And that’s how Cho’s character gets cursed. For asking such stupid questions. 

They’re promoting the movie on the basis of mainly this still – Are they hoping it will be iconic as the shower scene from Psycho?

Cho’s story is also the most muddled up of all of them because of the irrational and illogical sequencing of events. 

Obviously, the Landers family was dead when Cho showed up at their doorstep. How come he didn’t know that? If their bodies weren’t discovered yet, how come Cho didn’t find them when he waited hours inside their house supposedly waiting for the Landers to come, taking care of the dead Landers daughter (he didn’t know she was dead, obviously). 

At the risk of sounding sexist, I was also disappointed by the male-ghost jump-scares. In my opinion, men don’t make as scary-looking or as horror-inducing or as good-looking (in ghostly terms) ghosts/ spirits as women (I don’t know whether feminists will applaud me or bash my head for this statement). Even kid-ghosts fare better than men-ghosts. There’s just something about an overweight, middle-aged man lumbering about as a ghost that’s quite unappealing. It might work well as a zombie, but as a ghost, it’s a complete failure, even with the ghastly-mouth thing.

Then there’s the case of Lin Shaye where they touch upon emotionally charged concepts like assisted suicides. The actors try their best to portray the emotional and mental states of people stuck in such a situation where an assisted suicide would seem better off than going through suffering. Even Cho and his wife (Betty Gilpin) are shown to be going through an emotional phase because their unborn child is most-likely to be born with a syndrome called ALD. Topics like euthanasia and assisted suicide, ALD etc are just randomly thrown in, without understanding, in a failed attempt to give a strong emotional touch to the movie. There’s a strong dialog given towards to end of Lin Shaye’s story arc by her husband about people across time being connected, which would’ve sounded good in a time-travel film. However, here, it just sounded as mumbo-jumbo and out of context. 

The way the film’s paced, the ending seems quite abrupt and pretty basic. There were expectations from Bichir’s character, Det. Goodman, but he seems as much absent of the whole affair as much he is out of this review. 

All said and done, some of the jump-scares are pretty good, with one scene managing to pull off three jump-scares one after another. Riseborough’s character shines through, doing justice to the role of a mother, cop, widow beautifully. She literally fights single-handedly not only against the evil in the movie, but also to save the movie. Lin Shaye too, plays her character to the T, as expected from her. However, it seemed as if the makers thought just putting good actors is going to make the audiences not focus on the storyline much. 

I had not seen the original series and so there were no expectations which the movie was supposed to live up to. Similarly, there would be an entire generation of people who wouldn’t have seen the original movies as it’s almost 20 years since the first movie. However, the makers fail to capitalise on this fact and struggle to impress horror-fans even at the basic level.  

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