• The Grudge (Sony Pictures) Blu-ray Review

    The Grudge (Sony Pictures) Blu-ray Review
    Released by: Sony Pictures
    Released on: March 24th, 2019.
    Director: Nicolas Pesce
    Cast: Demian Bichir, Andrea Riseborough, John Cho, Lin Shaye, Jacki Weaver
    Year: 2020
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    The Grudge – Movie Review:

    In 2004, a woman named Fiona Landers (Tara Westwood) leaves her job at a home in Tokyo – she’s been seeing ghosts and just needs to get away, back to her home turf in the United States. What she doesn’t realize, after she arrives back at 44 Reyburn Drive, is that somehow she’s brought the vengeful spirit back of Kayako with her, and soon after her arrival she murders her husband and her daughter.

    New recruit Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) and her partner Goodman (Demián Bichir) are called out to investigate a body found in a car in the woods outside of town. It’s decomposed to the point where they figure it’s been there a good six months. How did this happen? Muldoon’s got issues of her own, she lost her husband to cancer three months ago and is a single mom to her young son. They start digging around and trying to find out how the body got there and it ties into the history of the house at 44 Reyburn Drive. As their investigation continues, the movie jumps around between times frames and we learn about how Goodman’s previous partner, Wilson (William Sadler), went insane while working a case related to the same house, and even tried to kill himself. Not enough? An aging couple, Faith (Lin Shaye) and William Matheson (Frankie Faison), deal with the hauntings as well, before meeting a grim end. After they pass, a husband and wife real estate team named Peter (John Cho) and Nina Spencer (Betty Gilpin) learn that their unborn child will a genetic disorder called ALD, only to find that, yeah, a vengeful ghost is wreaking havoc in their lives as well.

    Muldoon and Goodman start putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but will it be enough to stop this evil curse from spreading?

    The Grudge is not a good movie. The plot jumps around a lot, and unnecessarily so, creating only confusion rather than solidifying the narrative. This doesn’t make the movie better, it doesn’t build suspense – it would have been a tighter, leaner film had it played out in a linear fashion. But that isn’t the film’s worst problem. The original Japanese Grudge films were successful because they managed to create a sense of impending doom. They built slowly, yes, but very effectively to the point where, when the ghost(s) did appear, it carried impact and it meant something. Director Nicolas Pesce and company go the opposite direction here, instead introducing too many different characters in too many time lines for us to get to know any of them well enough to matter, and then bombarding the audience with cheap, and often times very predictable, jump scares. These might make you bounce out of your seat a bit if you’re not paying attention and don’t see them coming, but there’s no impact to any of them.

    The film does create some sympathetic characters. Lin Shaye is her typically reliable self here, cast as a woman suffering from dementia married to a kindly man who doesn’t know what quite to do with her. Frankie Faison is likeable as her husband, these two work well together. Additionally, John Cho and Betty Gilpin are sympathetic as they struggle to figure out what to do about the child that they’re about to bring into this world. But these are all subplots, really. Even what should be the main story – Muldoon and Goodman doing their thing, never feels properly fleshed out, though again, Andrea Riseborough and Bichir are more than fine in their respective parts.

    There was potential here and the movie gets a nod for at least trying to tie things into the movies that came before it, but the end result is a disjointed mess devoid of substance, that wastes some decent acting talent along the way.

    The Grudge – Blu-ray Review:

    The Grudge comes to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.39.1 on a 50GB disc. As you’d expect for a brand-new feature produced by a big studio with a decent budget, it looks fantastic. The film has a mild yellow tint in some scenes but this was clearly intentional on the part of the filmmakers. Detail is excellent and as this was shot digitally, there are no issues with print damage, grain or debris. Colors are reproduced well, black levels are strong and there are no noticeable issues with any compression artifacts. The movie looks great.

    The primary mix on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track and it’s pretty much a reference quality affair. There’s a lot of noticeable surround activity evident throughout the duration of the film and rear channels are used nicely to try and build suspense or punctuate the jump scares that the movie is so fond of. Dialogue is always clean and always clear and the score sounds really good. Bass response is powerful but never buries anything in the mix. Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

    Extras are made up of a series of short featurettes, the first of which is The Cast Of The Cursed which is a four-minute piece where the main cast members and a few people from the crew talk about how much they enjoyed working with director Pesce. Designing Death is a three-minute piece where the cast members talk about the spectral creations that are featured in the movie, while the five-minute Easter Egg Haunt sees Pesce pointing out little nods scattered throughout the film to earlier Ju-On/The Grudge films.

    More substantial is the half-hour of extended scenes, which includes an alternate ending, as some of this is actually pretty solid. There is a fair bit more character development included here that, had it been included in the film, would have fleshed things out more effectively, even if it was likely trimmed for pacing reasons.

    Menus and chapter selection options are included and trailers for a few other Sony properties play before the main menu loads. This release also comes bundled with an insert card containing a download code for a digital copy of the movie and comes packaged with a slipcover.

    The Grudge – The Final Word:

    The Grudge is, unfortunately, a misfire. Those who enjoy jump scares and don’t need substance to back them up will probably enjoy the film for the superficial thrills that it offers, and performances are genuinely strong across the board, but the story jumps around too much and the over reliance on things jumping out and going ‘boo’ instead of creating any sense of lasting, palpable dread sinks the film. With that said, Sony has done an excellent job bringing the film to Blu-ray. It looks and sounds fantastic and has some decent extra features as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Grudge Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Maybe they'll stop remaking them now haha