AndersonVision reviews The Grudge (2020)
The Grudge is a film about trauma. Well, the original and 2004 Americanization were about that. Now, it’s a film that works as an attempt to revive established properties for SONY. Why? Well, that’s because it’s far too expensive and risky to engage in original content now.
When you can’t be a good enough horror movie, then you become a detective movie. Why? Well, because Andrew Kevin Walker made it scary in the 1990s and that translates. No one knows what it translates into now, but it worked for New Line back in 1995. Right?
Watching as a demonic spirit crosses borders to make itself more easily understood for middle American audiences feels quaint. The Parasite director can whine about how Americans don’t read subtitles, but there is now a proud American tradition of bending all art to the will of ignorance. If we spent decades making camp and bizarre cuts out of better foreign material, why stop now? Make both versions available and let audiences find what they want
But what about The Grudge ghost?
The Onryo is a spirit in Japanese mythology/theology/whatever that is created by a violent death. Sheer rage and angst pushes them out of the depths of the netherworld and into attacks upon the living. There is a lot to read into that, as we live in an emotionally driven era. At least, the ones of that spend way too much time online.
Normal people just see a movie about the Japanese ghost haunting houses across the globe. It’s like an ad for Zillow made by Trulia. The connections to the original film series are limited at best, but hey Lin Shaye is being all weird. The kids like that in those Insidious films.
Explain to me why I should care about The Grudge
If there is anything done wrong in The Grudge (2020). It’s the fact that it exists. We live in an age where way too many people are connected to much media. Over-saturation has reached a level where everything is available and nothing is special. So, why keep trying to reshape the moldy lumps of shit from the recent past?
The best case scenario is that every film is someone’s first encounter with this kind of horror storytelling. Even if it ends up becoming a 12 year old’s favorite horror movie, that 12 year old will end up growing and moving onto other things. It’s not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. When I was 12, I was really obsessed over Freddy’s Dead. Eventually, I moved on.
Now, what we have is a bizarre worst case scenario. Kids are going to love what they love. However, studios pander to the lowest common denominator without actually offending people. Gone are the days of pumping trash into theaters and hoping that it eventually finds an audience by the time it hits the Blockbuster shelf.
Who should I blame for this movie?
In the modern era, the Studio system is designed to do two things. Minimize financial risk and not risk alienating consumer bases. Certain studios bend over backwards to appease China. Others will live and die by what the social media mobs dictate at a moment. Then, there are those working to appease shareholders and financial firms selling out Hollywood piece by piece.
If you’re looking to blame anyone for trying to revive this barely cold corpse of a franchise, place the blame on a scared American studio system that is literally fighting for survival. The theater scene is dying, streaming threatens them at every turn and audience ambivalence to time-wasting bullshit is at an all-time high.
Or it could just be January. Why am I expected to bring out the deep insight on movies that weren’t good enough to compete with Cats?