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The Good, the Bad and the Fugly 2019
The Grudge Review

"Will you feed me?" - Mrs Matheson

Curiouser and curiouser as Alice said (The Alice who went to Wonderland that is, not the one whose rock concerts I attend at every chance.)

I noticed Sam Raimi’s name as a producer of this movie and thought it’d be a good way to break up a mundane week in bleak late January. Literally, as something to do, somewhere to go, nothing more, nothing less. This was a throwaway movie as far as I was concerned. I didn’t really matter one way or the other whether I actually liked it or not. It filled in an hour and a half and got me out of the house.

I didn’t realistically expect to enjoy the film as thoroughly as I did. I knew there was a Japanese film that this is based on – but I’ve never seen it. I was also aware that there had been an earlier American made version of the Japanese film that according to Steve had starred Sarah Michelle Gellar. (Um…okay.) And I’d seen it. (Um…what?) I honestly have no recollection whatsoever of watching the movie. None. Apparently, I even have the film in my collection. (Seriously? No idea.)

But on sitting down to write this review, I felt the urge to check my DVD list – and there it is. Large as life, along with The Grudge 2. (WTF is going on?) I thought it was an oversight. Long gone discs that went to a charity shop during a clearout, that I forgot to take off the list.

Further digging showed me that they’re there on the shelf. The Grudge 2 is still in its cellophane. I’m really intrigued by this. But hey, as long as this isn’t the first stage of senility – I have something to watch that I don’t have to buy in. (Looking on the bright side)

All very confusing, so if this is the FOURTH film in a series that I’ve no memory of seeing one and outsight didn’t see the other, despite buying it (I’m a forgetful collector, and I’m sticking with that) and the fact there’s a third which I was oblivious to then it was so far against the odds that I’d like this film, I shouldn’t have even bothered starting the car.

Suitably confused by this (and who wouldn’t be?) I checked online and found that this film is a (wait for it) “sidequel”. (Seriously, WTF?) So, it takes place in a non linear order alongside the existing films. (Wow, my brain is melting)

By all normal standards, I should’ve loathed this movie. But, I knew none of this so I guess knowledge isn’t always power and ignorance can sometimes be pretty blissful.

It’s a film that’s instantly accessible. You don’t need to have seen the previous entries before this one. It’s all explained. It’s simple. When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage, a curse is left behind. It never forgives, and it never forgets.

As the film gets underway, we see a woman leave her employment in a Japanese house. We don’t know exactly why, but she’s seen something in the house. As she’s standing on the pavement outside, she starts seeing a refuse sack move as if there’s something inside – and we’re off. Back to her husband and young daughter but she carries the curse of Kayako Sayeki from the original Japanese films. (Don’t worry – you don’t need to have seen them). And it follows her back home.

And that’s just the prologue – we’re just getting started here on what I can only describe as a rollercoaster frightfest of a movie.

The film isn’t told in a chronological way – it follows the investigations of a policewoman into first of all, the discovery of the rotted remains of a woman in a car, which leads her to the house where the family we first saw two paragraphs ago lived, now owned by an elderly couple. Plus her new cop partner has lost his previous partner in an attempted suicide and is now locked in a mental institution…

It all sounds very confusing, but the main thrust of the story is how the rage curse (the grudge) is passed along to whoever lives in that house and sees the spirit. Its victims become the next spirit and so it’s passed on through four distinct, separate yet interwoven stories that are effectively told and liberally peppered with jump scares which are accentuated with a mounting sense of menace and a grim dread of where the spirit will show up next? Or is it already in the frame only you don’t know until it moves. Damn – that’s effective.

With a tension level that quickly gets off the scale and remains there until the credits, I found this to be one of the most unnerving films I’ve seen in a long time. It begs the question; how many nerve fraying scares and dread realisations can possibly fit into one production. But then, this isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, horror like comedy is entirely subjective.

It worked on me. I thoroughly enjoyed it, the atmosphere it created and the dread it inspired. And yes, I did jump on occasion. I had a blast. The film did its job.

Now – I have some DVDs to watch (blush)


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