3/10 After watching every Grudge movie in this franchise to prepare for the latest installment, I was really hoping that this incarnation would set itself apart from the other movies. Despite a couple of elements that work, this movie is more of the same and completely forgettable, which sounds about right for a horror movie release dumped in early January. Before I crap on this movie, there are a few elements that work. The adult cast does their best with the uninspired script and in particular, Betty Gilpin and John Cho, though limited in screen time, provide some heart to the movie. Andrea Riseborough, the main character and always reliable Demián Bichir are the other two standouts who do a fine job of acting here. The score, particularly near the beginning and end of the movie stood out to me as unsettling and really accomplished. When I discovered that this movie is scored by the Newton Brothers, the high quality score made much more sense. There are a coupe genuinely creepy moments with startling imagery and I do appreciate this movie utilizing its R rating. Those few positives aside, the rest of this movie breaks no new ground and makes me wish this franchise would die off, like a victim of the grudge itself. There have been at least three other movies in this franchise that have the hand coming out of the back of a character’s head while in the shower, as seen on the poster and in the trailer for this movie. Instead of trying something new and scary, this movie just plays it safe and repeats that gimmick yet another time. As much as the time jumps work well in this movie, that has been done in just about every Grudge movie, so we see it coming and it feels tired. So much is recycled from past movies that we just don’t care anymore. There are a few groups of characters who are all connected to a specific house and as fine as it is to have multiple sets of characters, due to jumping back and forth between them, they are never developed into more than boring horror clichés, so we don’t care when something happens to them or they die. Characters with potential to be interesting get abandoned as the movie jumps to the next set of characters just as things were about to get interesting. In a time where horror films have actually started to become elevated due to some very talented film makers (Ari Aster, Mike Flanagan, Robert Eggers) putting out fantastic work in the genre, forgettable, run of the mill movies like this feel that much more stale in comparison. This movie is not offensively bad and it has a few bright spots but you should definitely feel free to skip this movie so it doesn’t haunt you and make you have a grudge against the teller who sold you the movie ticket.
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