- Katherine McLaughlin
- 22 January 2020
A fantastic cast struggle to salvage Nicolas Pesce's underwhelming horror reprisal
A reboot of the American remake of Takashi Shimizu's seminal J-horror about a cursed house should not have been the most exciting of prospects. Still, we had reason to hope, with the material in the darkly imaginative hands of writer-director Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother, Piercing).
The film opens in 2004, with continuous switches until 2006, telling stories within the main story which sees Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) commence her obsessive investigation into the multiple deaths at 44 Reyburn Drive. She's new in town and, following the death of her husband, is the primary caregiver to son Burke (John J Hansen). Muldoon is warned away from entering the aforementioned property by her new partner Goodman (Demián Bichir). Needless to say, she doesn't listen.
Both Goodman and Muldoon are suffering recent losses and the film tackles its themes of grief, hope and the deterioration of body and mind with visuals of rotting, eviscerated corpses, the appearance of Kayako, and a new ghost who takes on a similar form. Keeping up the previous films' tradition, grubby hands pop out of everything, including John Cho's gloriously coiffed barnet. Cho plays an estate agent who has the cursed dwelling on his books and is joined by Betty Gilpin as his pregnant wife. Genre favourite Lin Shaye, Jacki Weaver and Frankie Faison make appearances too.
The fantastic cast do their best with what they're given but, due to the convoluted and repetitive appearance of all-too familiar imagery, the film fizzles early on, only reigniting itself late in the game with an intriguing idea. Pesce clearly knows The Grudge universe inside out and he does bring some fresh elements to this beloved franchise, and yet it still never adds up to anything more than an underwhelming horror, leaning on too many basic jump scares.
General release from Fri 24 Jan.