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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

The Grudge (MA) - 94 minutes

Things that go bump in the night ... and, in this case, day.

Creaks, groans, creepy music, dark places and scares aplenty.

Written and directed by Nicolas Pesce, the supernatural horror The Grudge follows the same formula as its predecessors, The Grudge in 2004, The Grudge 2 in 2006 and The Grudge 3 (which didn’t make it into cinemas) in 2009.

They, in turn, were based upon the original Japanese horror film Ju-On: The Grudge, which was released in 2002 (with a sequel the following year).

In short, we follow a US police officer who is new in town and probes a series of murders that are seemingly connected to a single house.

While her Mexican partner wants nothing to do with the house – having already seen a former partner “go mad” while conducting his own investigation – she doesn’t hesitate.

The consequences, though, are catastrophic.

The Grudge combines the stories of four families and takes place between the years 2004 and 2006, with the screenplay jumping back and forth in time.

The film starts as live-in nurse Fiona Landers (Tara Westwood) leaves a property in Tokyo, disturbed by events she witnessed inside.

All she wants to do is to high tail it back to her home at 44 Reyburn Drive in a small town in Pennsylvania and be reunited with her husband Sam (David Lawrence Brown) and their young daughter Melinda (Zoe Fish).

Very soon, though, things take a decidedly ugly turn.

So, too, for a real estate agent and his wife – Peter and Nina Spencer (John Cho and Betty Gilpin) – the former of whom is looking to sell the property.

The misfortune continues for an elderly couple, Faith and William Matheson (Lin Shaye and Frankie Faison), who move into the house the following year – the former suffering from dementia and a terminal illness.

With them is Lorna Moody (Jacki Weaver), an assisted suicide consultant, who gets a whole lot more than she bargained for when she is called to help.

And thereafter is when rookie Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) enters the fray, after she and her partner, Detective Goodman (Demian Bichir), are dispatched to the woods where a decomposed body has been found in a car.

Detective Muldoon and her young son Burke (John J. Hansen) have come to town for a fresh start after the untimely death of her husband/his father from cancer.

Much in The Grudge circa 2020 takes place with all but solitary interactions with manifestations of a possessed entity.

Clearly these people don’t believe in the safety in numbers adage.

Mind you, to be fair, numbers or no numbers it wouldn’t do them any good for anyone who enters the home at 44 Reyburn Drive, where the apparition was transported – upon Fiona Landers’ return from Tokyo – is a goner.

It takes some time to work out just who is who and exactly where they fit into the bigger picture, but once you figure that out the whole thing makes a lot more sense.

In fact, it becomes rather too obvious as to what is happening and then you wait for the inevitable ending ... with a twist, of course.

I had real trouble understanding just what Detective Muldoon’s grizzled detective partner Goodman was saying most of the time.

I put that down to a mixture of his accent and unclear pronunciation of words.

Regardless, I found it particularly frustrating.

While Riseborough make a fair fist of her pivotal role, I preferred the pacing and execution of The Grudge’s forerunners.

Rated MA, it scores a 6 out of 10.


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