It's been thirteen years since the last time a standalone The Grudge film debuted in North America - so what can we expect from the new film when it debuts in January of 2020? The Nicolas Pesce-directed film is produced by Sam Raimi and aims to be a return to form for the series.
The 2004 film was brought Stateside by original Ju-On director Takashi Shimizu and starred Sarah Michelle Gellar. Debuting in the wake of Gore Verbinski's incredibly popular The Ring, The Grudge was a massive success, grossing $100 million in the US on a $10 million budget. The inevitable sequel that followed two years later, however, was less warmly received, grossing only $39 million on double the budget of the first film. A direct to video third entry was released in 2009 and then the franchise went dormant (no, Sadako v Kayako doesn't count).
But there's Japanese-inspired horror returning to screens in 2020. While the reboot of Samara, Rings, bombed in 2017, The Grudge is still on the way next January. Here's everything we know about the movie so far.
The Grudge 2020 Is (Not) A Reboot
Rumblings of a new Grudge film always persisted but weren't made official until screenwriter Jeff Buhler was hired to write a draft in 2014. The film languished until 2017 when director Nicolas Pesce, who had made waves with his 2016 debut The Eyes of My Mother, was hired to rewrite Buhler's script and direct.
While the new film is an attempt by the studio to reboot the stalled franchise in North America, it should be noted that the new film is not strictly a sequel or a remake. Pesce developed his film explicitly as a "sidequel" to the 2004 film (via Bloody Disgusting), meaning that the events of the new film will take place in the same time that Sarah Michelle Gellar is battling ghosts in Tokyo. How this new Grudge, which is set in a small American town, connects to the events in Japan, remains unclear.
Also exciting is the news that Pesce is paying homage not just to the American entries in the series, but also the original Japanese films. His ghosts are more in keeping with the pared-down Japanese approach that eschews prosthetics in favor of grounded realism. In fact, Pesce also aims to recreate the Japanese films' visual aesthetic by shooting in more enclosed and claustrophobic environments, while still drawing on the iconography of American folklore.
The Grudge 2020 Cast
The Grudge franchise has a history of being female-fronted (Gellar and Amber Tamblyn in the sequel), so it is no surprise that several high profile actresses are attached to star. Chief among them is Betty Gilpin, who has seen her star rise in recent years on Netflix's GLOW. Andrea Riseborough is less well known, co-starring as the female lead of the Tom Cruise flop Oblivion before breaking out in last year's trippy Nicolas Cage cult film, Mandy. And, of course, Lin Shaye is practically horror royalty at this point.
The main male members of the cast are a similar mix of up and comers and vets. Demián Bichir has quietly been making a name for himself with bit roles in Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight and has some horror credibility thanks to parts in Alien: Covenant and The Nun. John Cho remains best known for Harold and Kumar, but he too has dabbled in genre with his recent stint on FOX's The Exorcist series. And, filling out the veteran genre role for the men is William Sadler, whose long, storied career as a character actor includes The Mist, Disturbing Behavior and Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight.
The Grudge 2020 Release Date
The Grudge cast was assembled in Spring 2018 and shooting began in May in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Originally the film was scheduled for release in August 2019, then Sony Pictures Entertainment moved the film up to June for an early summer release. A few months later, however, the film was shuffled off the 2019 schedule and moved to 2020 with no explanation. The Grudge will now release on January 3, 2020.
The Grudge 2020 Story
A recently released synopsis for The Grudge has revealed that Riseborough's detective is the de facto lead and that she is directly connected to a new cursed house:
A single mother and young detective, Muldoon (Riseborough), discovers that a suburban house is cursed by a vengeful ghost that dooms those who enter it with a violent death. Now, she runs to save herself and her son from demonic spirits from the cursed house in her neighborhood.
Without any mention of supporting characters, it is impossible to guess what role the remaining cast members have, but presumably they will factor into the film's other two interweaving stories.
The Grudge 2020 Rating
Both the original North American film and its sequel were rated PG-13 for "mature thematic material, disturbing images/terror/violence, and some sensuality", which makes sense given their interest in creeping dread over outright gore. The third film is an outlier. The direct-to-video entry in the franchise was rated R and focused more on graphic bloody violence, gore and language.
The Grudge 2020 will continue the rating tradition that began with the third entry; it has earned an R rating, which is encouraging for gore-hounds.
We'll update this page as more news and details emerge in the run-up to the film's January 3, 2020 release.
- The Grudge (2020) release date: Jan 03, 2020