There was some great outdoor cinematography and cleverly done “hidden ghost” shots where the characters don’t see the lurking shadow or face but the audience does if paying attention.
There’s a good soundtrack too, with some nice little piano bits, and the end credits song (save for the weird shouting involved) is not bad. And I did like Andrea Riseborough as Detective Muldoon, her story was the one I was most involved in as her investigation into the curse began to mess with her mentally, although it felt shoved into the background to allow for everyone else’s.
John Cho’s Peter Spencer had an interesting backstory, but unfortunately, it seemed to just be there for the sake of being there. And now we get into the negatives of the film, the big one being IT DIDN’T FEEL LIKE A GRUDGE FILM AT ALL. (Minor spoilers ahead) Someone else already brought this up, saying that it felt a different movie with The Grudge title slapped on, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt this way. In a way, it’s like click bait, but in this case, it’s more like “ticket bait.”
You get all excited for this reboot done that has a big-name horror creator attached (in this case, Sam Raimi) and you think it’s this new take on a revered franchise and then what do you get? A modernized adaptation that is barely strung onto the old franchise, where instead of breathing new life into the story, the makers suck it out. There’s literally a 2-minute scene at the start of the film that connects this movie to the first Grudge and that’s about it. What was so well done about the first two Grudge films was that the setting was kept in Japan for the most part, and when the setting moved to America in the sequel, it was for a reason, to help build upon the curse and its far-reaching effects on the living.
But this movie says that The Grudge 2 was not the first time the curse was carried with someone back to the states (since here it’s done in 2004, the setting for the first film), and that takes away a strong element from a better installment. Also, because this version takes place in America, it lacks the eerie, dull atmosphere that Japan gave off.
In Japan, it was cloudy and misty, with grays and blues, to keep everything stepped in suspense. But here, everything was too bright and sunny in rural Pennsylvania, so it wasn’t the setting that didn’t get to play a role like it did in the original. Also, watching this movie reminded me how much Kayako freaked me out as a kid, with her haunting rattle and wide dead gaze and her jerky movements.
Here, she’s only in that 2-minute scene I mentioned and then it’s her American rip-offs the rest of the movie. They didn’t have a real reason to rattle, they did it for the sake of doing it! I feel almost embarrassed for Takako Fuji, the lady who played Kayako in both the Japanese films AND the American remakes. She did such a damn good job playing this iconic and frightening face of horror that at the very least they could’ve had Junko Bailey, the lady playing Kayako in this film, take her place but nope, it’s just these modernized American re-hashes that are nowhere near as scary as her. *sigh*
If you want winter horror-thrillers, save your money for the Gothic The Turning (coming Jan. 25th), and the wide-release of last year’s indie gem The Lodge (coming out Feb. 7th).