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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Grudge is a reboot/revival of the horror series that started in Japan and previously offered three English-language entries. It's essentially about a cursed house that haunts anyone who dares to enter. Expect lots of blood and gore, rotted corpses, severed fingers, a body falling and smashing to the ground, a gun being drawn and fired (a bloody, failed suicide attempt), a car crash, and a fire, plus plenty of jump scares and frightening sounds. Language includes two uses of "f--k," several uses of "s--t," and "oh God" and "Jesus" (as an exclamation). There's no sexual content, but the two main characters smoke cigarettes fairly frequently, and one character sips a whiskey in one scene.
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What's the story?
In THE GRUDGE, a woman named Fiona (Tara Westwood) returns home to her family in America, on 44 Reyburn Drive, after experiencing strange and unsettling things in Japan. Two years later, in 2006, widowed police detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) relocates to the area with her young son. She's partnered with Detective Goodman (Demian Bichir). They investigate a corpse in the woods, and Muldoon determines that there's a connection with the Reyburn Drive house, and decides to check it out. She has a strange interaction with a woman (Lin Shaye) who lived in the house a year earlier. In the days following, Muldoon starts seeing ghosts of her own. Can Muldoon end the "grudge" curse and protect her son, or is there really no way to stop it?
Is it any good?
A curiously talented and interesting cast was somehow lured into -- and subsequently wasted in -- this pointless, tired, reboot/revival of the long-running Ju-On Japanese-based horror series. At least the cast keeps things from sinking into total awfulness. The Grudge (2020) is the fourth American/English-language movie in the series, which, by some counts, now runs to 13 feature-length movies. The last one, the fun, tongue-in-cheek Sadako vs. Kayako (2016) -- which pitted the stringy-haired girl Grudge ghost against the stringy-haired girl ghost from The Ring -- probably should have put an end to it. But apparently the lure of profits brought down the curse once again.
The random unfairness of the entire idea -- that simply walking into a house causes someone to be haunted forever -- isn't really very interesting, and the scares dreamed up by director/co-writer Nicolas Pesce are strictly of the creaky old jump-scare variety: Ghosts move in fast-motion and open their mouths really wide, and the soundtrack makes a huge "crash/bang!" Even the familiar ghost Kayako, with her throaty, chittering moan and her threatening locks of hair, is woefully underused here. That said, The Grudge is sometimes saved by inspired moments on behalf of the cast, notably Frankie Faison, whose beautiful speech about the afterlife and connectedness is unfortunately ignored and betrayed by the rest of the movie. In short, this Grudge doesn't budge.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Grudge's violence. Does the blood and gore make things seem more intense? How did those aspects of the movie affect you?
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of scary movies?
One character talks about the way that characters are connected through the house. Do you think that people are connected in other ways, in real life?
- In theaters: January 3, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: March 24, 2020
- Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Demian Bichir, John Cho
- Director: Nicolas Pesce
- Studios: Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Releasing
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing violence and bloody images, terror and some language
- Last updated: March 23, 2020
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