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Film / The Grudge (2020)

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Detective Goodman: Someone was murdered at that house.
Detective Muldoon: Why did you never go into that place?
Detective Goodman: Something never felt right about it.

The Grudge is a 2020 supernatural horror film written & directed by Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother). It is the fourth entry in the American Grudge series (itself based on the Japanese Ju-on franchise), serving as a sidequel set during the events of the first two films. Sam Raimi, who produced the first two films, returns in the same role here.

Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough) is contacted by Peter Spencer (John Cho) about an encounter while visiting a house for sale. As Muldoon proceeds with her investigation, she begins to discover a series of gruesome deaths connected to the house…and in doing so draws the attention of the malevolent entity that resides within. With time running out, Muldoon must uncover the mystery if she is to hope of saving herself and her son. Demián Bichir (The Bridge (US), Alien: Covenant, The Nun), Betty Gilpin (GLOW), Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom), William Sadler (Die Hard 2, Demon Knight, The Mist), and Lin Shaye (Alone in the Dark (1982), Insidious, Ouija) also star in supporting roles.

The trailer for the film can be found here.

The Grudge contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Played with somewhat. In the Japanese dub, Faith is voiced by none other than Takako Fuji herself. Fuji is best known as the original actress that played Kayako Saeki. Whether or not this is intentional is unknown.
  • Arc Number: The Four Is Death trope (present in all the films in the series) counts as this, but there is also the number 'five', since the Arc Words are usually followed by characters counting to five
  • Arc Words: "What do we do when we're scared? We (close our eyes and) count to five".
  • Adapted Out: The entire Saeki family, save for a brief Kayako cameo, doesn't figure into this plot of this film.
  • Ax-Crazy: Most people affected by the curse, though Detective Wilson winds up becoming more dangerous to himself than anybody else.
  • Bungled Suicide: Detective Wilson survives shooting himself in the head, albeit disfigured.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Fiona almost tells Yoko what she saw at the Saeki House that caused her to quit, but it's too weird for her to give words to.
  • Disappeared Dad: Burke's father died of cancer
  • Disproportionate Retribution: If you enter the house, the ghosts will follow you (and maybe your family too) and terrorize you until you’re dead.
  • Downer Ending: Muldoon thinks she's destroyed the curse and saved her family, but discovers a bit too late that she hasn't.
  • Driven to Suicide: Faith and Detective Wilson, though he bungles it the first time.
  • Evil Tainted the Place: Detective Goodman, who investigated the Landers case, came to this conclusion after he saw his partner Detective Wilson descend into madness after he went to the haunted house.
  • Eye Scream: Detective Wilson gouges out his own eyes as orderlies restrain him to a stretcher.
  • Fingore: Faith has her left fingers chopped to bits.
  • Four Is Death:
    • Address of the haunted house is 44 Reyburn Drive.
    • One of the characters is attacked by a ghost exactly at 4:44 AM.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Maldoon's way to cope with fear by closing eyes and counting to five comes in handy when she encounters Melinda's ghost pretending to be her son.
    • Peter joking with his wife about murdering her with his cooking, foreshadows the curse making him kill her in a kitchen.
  • Freak Out: Muldoon loses it at one point, when the ghost appears in her son’s room at one point.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Kayako's role is significantly diminished in this installment. She only appears briefly to pass the curse onto Fiona, which kicks the whole plot in motion, but is otherwise uninvolved in the events that follow. Instead, Fiona goes on to become a vengeful spirit herself and perpetuates the curse in America.
  • Haunted House: The house on 44 Reyburn Drive haunted by ghosts of the Landers family.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Kayako's death rattle in the film's opening scene. note 
  • Kill It with Fire: Like with the first Grudge film, Maldoon sets 44 Reyburn Drive on fire, thinking it will end the curse. It doesn't, and it's implied it only made it stronger.
  • Murder Into Malevolence: One side of the eponymous grudge curse is this - some of the people killed by it return as ghosts to attack or at least frighten its next victims, the other makes its still living victims descend into murderous rage, which they retain as ghosts.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • While Peter is taking a shower, ghostly fingers can be seen in his hair.
    • Floating hair effect present in the trailer is reminiscent of the opening credits of the American films.
    • It's not the first time when someone is attacked by a ghost emerging from a bathtub filled with dirty water.
    • Peter taking care of injured Melinda is reminiscent of both Kobayashinote  and Peternote  taking care of injured Toshio. In all 3 cases they spent a whole day in the haunted house with the respective child's ghost.
    • Parents drowning their child and then as ghosts doing the same to the curse victims, happened both in this film and in the first American remake.
    • One of the posters for this movie is scarily similar to the poster for the first Grudge remake.
  • Papa Wolf: Upon finding out that Fiona drowned their daughter, Sam understandably attacks his wife in a devastated rage, prior to being murdered by her as well.
  • Period Piece: Set primarily in 2004 and 2006, when the first two films of the American series were released.
  • Same Plot Sequel: The film somewhat repeats the Kimble subplot of the second and third films, wherein an American takes the curse of the Saeki home back with them to the United States and infects a new house with it.
  • Sanity Slippage: Detective Wilson loses his mind after entering the Lander's home, and ends up a suicidal wreck of a man.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Detective Goodman quickly picks up that something is seriously wrong with the house and refuses to set foot in it. He drops the case altogether when his partner, Wilson, undergoes major Sanity Slippage after he entered the house. This is what spares him from the curse.
  • Shady Real Estate Agent: Averted with the Spencer's, who are fairly pleasant and ethical at their jobs.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Nina Spencer is pregnant with a baby that has adrenoleukodystrophy, a rare and debilitating genetic disorder, which distresses her and Peter, but in the end this doesn't matter because Peter ends up killing Nina and their unborn child.
  • Sidequel: To the original trilogy. The prologue is set shortly before the first Grudge, when Yoko's (and Karen's) caregiving predecessor brings the curse of the Saeki home back to the United States, and the events depicted primarily happen in the same timeframe of the first and second movies.
  • Soft Reboot: Of the American Grudge series. None of the cast or characters (save for a brief Kayako cameo, albeit played by a different actress) from the original trilogy appear here, but it's set in the same continuity and Sam Raimi (who produced the first two) returns as producer.
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels: This is the fourth film in the American Grudge series, but it lacks a numbered title and is instead recycled from the original. It was also originally titled, simply, Grudge before it became The Grudge.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl:
    • Kayako's ghost haunting Fiona in front of the Saeki house in Tokyo.
    • Fiona's daughter, Melinda after she is drowned by her mother.
    • Fiona herself becomes this after she commits suicide.
    • Nina's (and her unborn child's) ghost is briefly seen at the roadside after she is killed by her husband, Peter.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Almost to the point of parody with Peter. At one point, while being chased down by a supernatural entity, he decides to make a break for it into a massive closet as a hiding space. Unsurprisingly, he is killed shortly after.
  • Vengeful Ghost: Kayako, Fiona, Melinda and Sam all returned as murderous ghosts.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Fiona Landers unwittingly brings the curse from the Saeki house in Tokyo to her own home in the USA, kicking off the events of the movie.
    • Basically everyone who steps into the haunted house gets themselves and more often also other people killed by the curse, only making the curse stronger and increasing the number of murderous ghosts.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • Fiona, who quickly left after seeing the ghosts, not realizing that they would be able to follow her.
    • William Matheson notices the ghosts, but sees them as being peaceful, and potentially inspiring given the confirmation of some form of life after death, not realizing their vicious desire to speed up that afterlife.

"We need to leave, right now."