The Grudge reboot director Nicolas Pesce has compared the tone of his film to Seven. The Grudge – AKA Ju-Oh - franchise, alongside The Ring, helped popularize J-horror in the West. The franchise is probably best remembered for the Sarah Michelle Gellar fronted remake in 2004. Gellar played a care worker in Japan who enters a house that’s being cursed by angry spirits, with anyone who enters doomed to die. The remake proved to be a massive hit, and led to a less successful sequel in 2006 with Gellar returning for a brief cameo.
By the time 2009 around, the franchise had gone straight to video with the poorly reviewed The Grudge 3. The franchise has had a much bigger life outside of the American reboots. There have been ten different Grudge movies made in Japan over the years, which even includes a crossover with The Ring dubbed Sadako Vs Kayako in 2016. The franchise even spawned a video game on the Wii called Ju-On: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator, which was only notable for its low critical ratings.
It was announced last year director Nicolas Piece would be rebooting the American Grudge series, with Lin Shaye and Andrea Riseborough (Mandy) heading the cast. The director promised his take would be very different to previous Grudge movies, and in a new interview with EW, he explained his more grounded, psychological take.
It’s a very different take on The Grudge than you know it from the past. Those movies will always exist and always be there for you to watch. I think that horror audiences these days are looking for a much more grounded, much more realistic, much more character-driven story in their horror movies. We see what’s doing well now and it is these kind of smarter, more nuanced horror stories, and that’s what this is going to be. We’re trying to update it for contemporary sensibilities, and we have an unbelievable cast, and I think it’s going to be something very different. There’s a thousand Grudge movies out there, and we wanted to figure out a way to kind of put a new, fresh spin on it, and it’s going to be exciting.
Pesce compared the film’s tone to Seven and praised his lead actress Riseborough.
The movie is set up a lot more like Seven, that sort of movie. There’s a cop drama that drives the whole thing, and Andrea is the lead detective on this new case that they’ve come upon and is the driving force through the movie. She’s incredible. She’s in absolutely everything and, when you see her act, you know why.
While fans of the Grudge series may not like the sound of the original formula being thrown aside, the franchise needs a fresh start. The premise of people entering a house and getting chased by a very flexible ghost was incredibly creepy at first, but through various sequels and parodies, the terror gradually diminished. It sounds like Pesce wants to reinvent the concept and make it genuinely scary again, which can only be a good thing. The fact it managed to attract such a talented cast is also an encouraging sign.
Grudge was recently pushed back from a 2019 release date to January 2020, which has proven in the past to be a solid slot for horror movies. Horror reboots appear to be all the rage right now, and following the success of Halloween (2018), a slew of projects like Jordan Peele’s Candyman, Child’s Play and Final Destination are in the works. Co-star Lin Shaye recently dubbed the Grudge reboot the scariest film she’s ever made - which is a bold claim for someone who was in both Insidious and A Nightmare On Elm Street.
- Grudge (2020) release date: Jan 03, 2020