Monday, January 27, 2020     Volume: 20, Issue: 47
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
AD ASTRA
AVENGERS: ENDGAME
BAD BOYS FOR LIFE
BINGEABLE: Barry
BINGEABLE: CASA DE LAS FLORES
BINGEABLE: FLEABAG
BINGEABLE: GRACE AND FRANKIE
BINGEABLE: INTO THE DARK
BINGEABLE: MAGIC FOR HUMANS
BINGEABLE: NATHAN FOR YOU
BINGEABLE: RUSSIAN DOLL
BINGEABLE: STRANGER THINGS 3
BINGEABLE: THE PEOPLE V. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY
BINGEABLE: THE SINNER (SEASON 2)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: COOL RUNNINGS (1993)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: FISH TANK (2009)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: FRIENDS
BLAST FROM THE PAST: HOUSE
BLAST FROM THE PAST: LONE WOLF MCQUADE
BLAST FROM THE PAST: OLDBOY
BLAST FROM THE PAST: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
BLAST FROM THE PAST: ROBOCOP
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE MATRIX
BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE PRESTIGE (2006)
BLAST FROM THE PAST: UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY
BLAST FROM THE PAST: WILD AT HEART
BLAST FROM THE PAST: YOU’VE GOT MAIL
BOMBSHELL
BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON
CATS
DARK WATERS
DOCTOR SLEEP
DOLITTLE
DOWNTON ABBEY
FORD V FERRARI
FROZEN II
GUILTY PLEASURE: THE HANGOVER
GUILTY PLEASURES: BARBIE LIFE IN THE DREAMHOUSE
GUILTY PLEASURES: GIRL MEETS WORLD (2014-2017)
HAEWATCH: THE WITCHER (2019)
HATEWATCH: CHOPPED
HATEWATCH: FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER’S MONSTER, FRANKENSTEIN
HATEWATCH: NAILED IT!
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
JOJO RABBIT
JOKER
JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL
KNIVES OUT
LIKE A BOSS
LITTLE WOMEN
MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL
MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN
ONCE UPON A TIME … IN HOLLYWOOD
RICHARD JEWELL
SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (EXTENDED CUT)
SPIES IN DISGUISE
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
THE GRUDGE
THE LIGHTHOUSE
THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON
THE TURNING
UNCUT GEMS
UNDERRATED: BATMAN BEGINS
UNDERRATED: INSOMNIA
UNDERRATED: SHUTTER ISLAND
UNDERRATED: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL
UNDERRATED: THE FALLING
UNDERWATER
YESTERDAY
ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP

THE GRUDGE

PHOTO BY PHOTO COURTESY OF SCREEN GEMS

THE GRUDGE


Where is it playing?: Hi-Way Drive-In, Movies Lompoc, Santa Maria 14

What's it rated?: R

What's it worth?: $Stream it (Kasey Bubnash)

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Director Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother, Piercing) attempts to put a fresh but still disgustingly rotten face on this J-horror classic about a curse that’s not easy to shake. 

I was 9 years old when the first American version of The Grudge came out in 2004, and I still remember the terror I felt every time I walked past the DVD case at the movie rental store—that bulging black eyeball peeking out at me from behind stringy wet hair. 

My best friend at the time was a year older than me, much tougher, and for months after The Grudge was released on DVD, I was plagued by the thought that she’d force me to watch it with her. We’d secretly watched The Ring (2002) when it came out two years earlier, and I’d panicked every time the phone rang for God only knows how long after. 

I don’t even remember watching The Grudge now, but I do recall all the hype around it and other Japanese-inspired horror movies—that wave of flicks with undead, long-haired girls coming out of forests, bathtubs, wells, and TVs. They were the stimulus for many of the early 2000s horror movies I grew up fearing, the movies that helped shape my generation into the sadists we are today. 

Director Pesce, being only 29, must have had a similar experience, because outside of sheer nostalgia, I can’t think of a single good reason to resuscitate this story.

The Grudge was never good. It’s just another haunted house story, except these unfortunate hauntees can’t move away from the nightmare: a curse that’s conjured whenever someone dies in a rage, hangs out where said angry person died, and then attaches itself to anyone who enters the place where the rage death occurred forever thereafter.

This most recent version of the film stays within those simple and frighteningly vague rules. All you have to do is step foot in a house where someone else died mad, and BOOM, you’ll be stalked by bathtub-dwelling ghouls for the rest of your life? Surely this curse is killing people in epidemic proportions. 

In the 2020 version, we’re following Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough), a recently widowed cop who’s investigating a dead body she happened upon inside a house at 44 Rayburn Drive.

Muldoon finds that first on the death roster was Fiona (Tara Westwood), who picked up the curse while in Tokyo and then promptly killed her husband, daughter, and herself upon her return. Welcome home, mom! Then there’s the real-estate agent couple tasked with selling the house, and since they had to go inside for work, I don’t really think it’s fair that they end up brutally murdered too. Do most employers give out workers’ comp for possessions? 

Then there’s Muldoon herself, who, after launching her investigation, starts seeing and hearing dead people a little too frequently for comfort. 

To be fair, I think the 17 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes is a little uncalled for. My usual issue with horror movies—piss poor acting and even worse writing—isn’t a problem here. The actors can act, the jump scares are jumpy, and the gore is gory. And yet, The Grudge 2020 falls oh so flat. 

There aren’t any groundbreaking scares, the story’s updated perspective (a cynical cop who doesn’t believe in ghosts UNTIL ... ) isn’t fresh, and it seems like the filmmakers forgot to include a climax altogether.  

It’s been about 16 years since I first watched The Grudge, and nothing really changed. I’ll probably forget watching this one, too. (94 min.)

—Kasey Bubnash




Weekly Poll
How often would you see a health care provider such as a chiropractor, acupuncturist, or massage therapist if they're not covered by your health insurance?

Not at all. That stuff doesn't work.
Only when my ailment is really bothering me.
As often as possible.
I avoid it. Self-care like exercise and stretching are enough.

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