By Troy Ribeiro
“The Grudge”; Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Demian Bichir, John Cho, Betty Gilpin, Lin Shaye, Jacki Weaver; Direction: Nicolas Pesce; Rating: ** and 1/2 (two and half stars)
Director Nicolas Pesce’s “The Grudge” is an adaptation of director Takashi Shimizu’s 2004 American version, which in turn was the remake of the Japanese original “Ju-On: The Grudge”.
The narrative spans over a period of two years ranging from 2005 to 2006, which begins with a rather long prologue that gives us an insight into the curse of the house in which this film’s cinematic universe prevails.
The curse was apparently born after someone died in the powerful grip of extreme rage or sorrow. It gave birth to a supernatural entity who coexisted in the house. Whoever sees it or encounters it, perishes in the most horrific manner, causing a domino effect. This curse is reborn repeatedly, passing from victim to victim in an endless, growing chain of horror.
The house in this case is 44 Reyburn Drive, in Cross River Pennsylvania. Apparently everyone in town is aware that whoever lived in the said house died ghastly deaths. They accept it as fate of the inhabitants, and thus avoid going over to the house out of fear that the curse may befall them.
Told in a non-liner manner, the overarching plot involves the lives three families; the Landers, Mathesons and Spencers, who lived there over a period of time. Their fate unfurls when Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) finds a rotting dead body in a neglected car abandoned in a forested area not too far away from the highway. The sight is repulsive.
“How can something like this happen?” She mutters out of concern. And thus, begins her investigation.
The plot, after a while gets tedious as it introduces us to a plethora of characters in depressing and tragic situations with predictable fate. The screenplay is convoluted. It meanders aimlessly, in a perfunctory manner, till we are introduced to Lorna Moody (Jacki Weaver) who comes over to stay with the Mathesons as Mrs. Mathesons’ caretaker. Thence you find a semblance of a story that makes sense.
There are elaborate scares that intend to make you jump out of your skin. But unfortunately, though interesting, the sequences are far from convincing, simply because, those effects are hallucinations experienced by the characters, as the audience is aware of it.
The entire set-up appears so atmospheric and stereotypical that there is absolutely no novelty factor in the film. The only visual that stands out, is the top angle shot when the camera pulls back to show us the location of the abandoned car, at the far end of the film. That too is lost in the maze.
The only most memorable thing that sticks into your memory much after you leave the theatres is the dialogue exchanged by Detective Muldoon and her son,
“What do we do when we are scared?” she asks.
“Close our eyes and count to five,” is the reflex answer, the little boy gives his mother. This dialogue forms a leitmotif in the narrative which occurs too often.
You don’t even need to practice this while watching it… the film is so mundane despite having good production values.