Here we are at the beginning of another year (my fourth year writing The Popcorn Periodical for The BUZZ online), and as we move into a new decade of exciting movie magic, I would like to express how grateful I am to still be reviewing films! Thank you all for reading and sharing your thoughts and opinions with me. I always hope you enjoey the show!

That said, we’ve all seen movies we thought to be amazing, good, okay or even terrible, and while I try my best to remain positive in my reviews, some of these films are just plain bad. It’s uncomfortable having to express dissatisfaction with a major motion picture, especially if the online majority disagrees, but alas, I’m here to lay it all out on the table. 

Hopefully, my opinion will either help you avoid spending money on a lousy movie or confirm that catching that new flick is a good idea. Either way, I’m here to lay it all out, and when it came to the new remake of 2004’s “The Grudge,” I was thoroughly unimpressed. Here’s why…

When the trailer dropped for the remake of 2004’s horror hit “The Grudge” starring ’90s Scream Queen Sarah Michelle Gellar, I was excited to see how new director Nicholas Pesce would modernize this classic Japanese horror (originally published as a novel entitled “Ju-on” by popular Japanese horror writer, Koji Suzuki.)

“Ju-on: The Grudge” was adapted into a popular Japanese horror film of the same name in 2002 by director Takashi Shimizu. Two years later, in 2004, Shimizu directed the American version of the film with acclaimed horror producer Sam Raimi. The movie was an overnight success, and while a caucasian actress (Gellar) was cast in the lead role, the entire film took place in Japan and did a lot more for the source material than this new painful reimagining nearly 15 years later.

The success of the initial Japanese and American adaptations, however, spawned two more American sequels – “The Grudge 2” featuring a supporting role by Sarah Michelle Gellar in 2006 and “The Grudge 3” featuring an entirely new and lesser-known cast in 2009. The horror genre has since been monopolized by “The Conjuring Universe,” so the hype for the “The Grudge” franchise faded away with the 2000s. 

Those who remember the original movies will undoubtedly remember the hauntingly pale Japanese “Grudge Girl” named Kayako. She had stringy, wet hair covering her face and she crept and crawled in a white nightgown, bellowing like a dying, croaking toad. The “Grudge Boy,” her son Toshio, was equally as pale and creepy, and together they haunted their household, killing anyone who set foot inside, but their cringeworthy and guttural “Grudge croak” has been MIA for the last decade…

Until now! And while nobody was out here asking for a remake of “The Grudge,” the trailer sparked an instant and positive reaction; both Sam Raimi and Takashi Shimizu returned as producer and scriptwriter, and instead of Sarah Michelle Gellar, we saw John Cho from 2018’s thriller “Searching” in all of Gellar’s famous scenes – including the shower scene (and more)! Liv Shaye, of Insidious” fame, does her very best, but her scenes read comical and barely make any real impact.

In retrospect, John Cho is what makes this movie worth seeing (if anything). Otherwise, “The Grudge” is painfully unenjoyable, and it’s truly unfortunate that Cho got wrapped up in a standardly terrible January movie because he has what I thought to be a very bright future in thriller movies! “Searching 2” was announced not that long ago! But not even Cho could not save this mess: the plot is lazily plucked from Japan and placed in America to die a slow death. And who decided to replace Kayako with a white lady? WHY?!

Within the first 15 minutes of “The Grudge,” you can tell this ship is about to sink. When the credits started rolling, my theatre erupted in laughter! Granted, “The Grudge 2020” opened at Number 4 and made $11.5 million at the domestic box office in its opening weekend. It cost less to make ($10 million), so they’ve made a small profit, but rest assured, the movie trailer (which is basically the entire film) cleverly sparked interest, which monetized. That’s the real reason “The Grudge” even made close to that amount. I suspect it will fall out of the Top 10 and yet again, “The Grudge” will fade into the blackness.

As Tyra Banks so famously said, “We were all rooting for you!”

“I’ll never let you go!”

1.5 Popcorn Kernals / 5


About the Author

Joey Viola is the Co-Founder of MoJo Toronto and an LGBTQ community leader who utilizes his passion and flair for the art of writing by bringing a fresh perspective in reviewing entertainment and advocating for equality, tolerance, and social/political justice.