Andrea Riseborough in The Grudge.
Andrea Riseborough in The Grudge.

MOVIE REVIEW: Reboot’s lack of detail is scarily sloppy

THE GRUDGE

Two stars

Director: Nicolas Pesce

Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Lin Shaye, Jacki Weaver

Rating: MA15+

Running time: 94 minutes

Verdict: A supernatural slog

 

If the devil is in the detail, then that's exactly what this half-hearted horror reboot is missing.

The characters in Nicolas Pesce's "sidequel" to the 2004 film of the same name are so underwritten they're barely distinguishable from the malevolent ghosts that haunt them.

Demian Bichir's
worn-out Pennsylvania detective, for example, is such a waste of space you keep waiting for some kind of explanatory twist.

And while Andrea Riseborough (The Death Of Stalin) lends a welcome intensity to the role of his rookie partner Muldoon, the obstacles presented by her thinly drawn storyline prove ultimately unsurmountable.

Andrea Riseborough in a scene from The Grudge.
Andrea Riseborough in a scene from The Grudge.

It might seem strange to challenge a ghost story, in which hands sprout out the back of men's skulls and demons emerge out of fetid bathwater, on its credibility issues.

But as a movie-goer, you have to believe the world in which The Grudge is set.

To bend Chekov's gun rule: if a filmmaker introduces a single mother and her child in the first act, he can't then ignore that significant relationship until it suits him.

Burke (John J. Hansen) is too young to be left alone for the countless hours Muldoon spends on her own, obsessively researching the mysterious case of a decomposing
body in a burn-out car - and its connection to a horrific family murder-suicide a few years prior.

And yet his mother and the filmmakers ignore the kid and his welfare for large chunks of the film - a throwaway line about a babysitter simply doesn't stick.

Jacki Weaver in The Grudge.
Jacki Weaver in The Grudge.

Having been MIA for most of the events that preceded it, Burke suddenly makes a reappearance for The Grudge's climactic final sequence, just in time for Muldoon's showdown with her supernatural nemesis.

When the resourceful detective decides to torch the haunted house that is responsible for so much misfortune, she inexplicably brings her son along for the ride.

Waiting alone, in the car, he's nothing more than a rudimentary plot device.

The Grudge's intersecting timelines mimic the structure of Japanese director Takashi Shimizu's 2004 US remake of his own film, which spawned two sequels.

Lin Shaye in a scene from The Grudge.
Lin Shaye in a scene from The Grudge.

There's a husband-and-wife real estate team whose grisly end is made all the more ugly by her third-trimester pregnancy.

And an elderly couple (Frankie Faison and Insidious's Lin Shaye) with a dark secret.

Jacki Weaver makes a surprise appearance in this plot strand as an assisted suicide assistant.

Pesce (Piercing) efficiently weaves The Grudge's
three separate narratives together in the final act, and he sustains the film's disturbing tone with a minimum of jump scares, but he needs to work on his people skills.

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