The Grudge has finally made its way into theaters, and audiences have been extremely vocal about their polarizing feelings on its return. The new sequel-ish adaptation attempts to walk a fine line between acknowledging and respecting its predecessors in addition to making it more modern horror — but it offers its best moments when utilizing the source material of the iconic franchise. You've already likely thought or read about why people didn't enjoy the film, but here are a few things that the film managed to effectively embrace.
The influence of Kayako
Without a doubt, Kayako is the face behind The Grudge franchise. Her pale skin, terrifying expression, movements, and chilling sounds are what caused the film to be so unique. While Kayako is only present for a moment in the film's runtime, it's her influence that makes the film a little eerier after trying to transition into this new curse. For example, the films opening scene adds a few different jump scare possibilities, but the atmosphere feels vastly different when she's the spirit as opposed to the new version. There are instances where the new curse embodies that same ambiance like the bathtub scene, or the close up through a doorbell, and in these moments — the film does pull itself back to what we loved about the franchise. If they had explored Kayako more it most definitely would have benefitted the overall product, but you can tell there was hesitation on how much the films should directly connect. The new entities didn't match the ferocity of the 2004 film, but when they do try to recreate it, it offers some of the film's best assets and as a result, provides a few select moments that are disturbingly nerve-racking.
It's not a reboot
Some might have preferred the reboot route, but there's a little more reward from The Grudge because of the decision to establish parallels. As mentioned above, the opening scene was a clever way to set up the new film while addressing the 2004 version, making longtime fans of the franchise feel like there's a respectful nod to the films that have been underrated by critics. Overall, it was made it fairly clear that the scares weren't going to rely on its traditional suspenseful setting — becoming more of an in-your-face jump scare movie that appears to draw inspiration from The Conjuring universe. It's definitely a risky choice considering the tone is a unique necessity to The Grudge franchise, but by bringing back components of the other films it teeters between two different avenues of horror.
Strong performances from solid actors
Whether or not you enjoyed The Grudge, one thing that can be said is that it offers some memorable performances. As these films usually do, this story takes place at different points of time, allowing multiple character arcs to follow. Andrea Riseborough is the central character in the film and her story of the helpless non-believer to desperate to survive was a nice attribute to the narrative. John Cho also is given time to shine as a struggling realtor with a pregnant wife and complications that cause you to feel attached to their joint plotline.
When the film gets dark, things certainly intensify and because of the performance by Cho and Betty Gilpin, you're bound to feel something from their presence. Lin Shaye plays a pivotal role in the film, believed to be a woman whose health is deteriorating, but almost every scene she's in — you're fully aware that there's an opportunity for something scary. Regardless of if Shaye is screaming, laughing or playing peek-a-boo with a ghost girl, she gives us some of her best work and proved her versatility as a horror veteran.
The Grudge obviously isn't without flaws in comparison to the 2004 and 2006 films. However, because of these noteworthy attributes, the new adaptation is still worth watching for fans of the genre and the franchise.