For the past few years, I have actually been pleasantly surprised with the titles that have been getting dropped off in January. You see, this is widely considered a "dumping" month, where a bunch of throwaway titles that so few care about get a release. But counting back, one by one, we can find some good, hidden gems. 'The Kid Who Would Be King', 'Paddington 2', 'Split', all great flicks that had a January release over the past 3 years that I've run this site. However, the month kicked off with a single title that only made us as "why in the hell is this happening?"
First let me just come right out with it, the plot is a bit convoluted. I ended up digging into the order of how things go in this movie, but it's really all over the damn place. This is the same idea as 2004's 'Grudge' in which a cursed spirit, haunting a house, rubs off on a bunch of people and there's a bunch of disturbing imagery that goes "boo!" It's a convoluted waste of time, seemingly trying very hard to be horror's 'Pulp Fiction' (good luck) in the way the story is executed. It's basically four separate stories that intertwine.
The Landers Family story is about Fiona (Tara Westward) leaving the cursed house, disturbed by events, going home and reuniting with her husband, Sam (David Lawrence Brown) and daughter, Melinda (Zoe Fish) while the curse follows her. This is followed by real estate agent Peter (John Cho) and Nina Spencer's (Betty Gilpin) story, involving an unborn baby who will most likely have ALS. Peter tries selling the cursed house to get his mind off things, but then the curse hits him, and no good comes of it.
Dementia sufferer Faith (Lin Shaye) and husband William Matheson (Frankie Faison) move into the house a year after the previous two cursed events took place. The curse hits Faith to such an extent that an assisted suicide doctor is called to the house. A year after that is Muldoon's (Andrea Riseborough) story. She's a rookie detective, and upon checking the house out for several previous crimes, she finds herself intertwined with every previous story. If this was all told in the order I wrote it out, it wouldn't have been as messy as it is. But it goes back and forth pretty confusingly, even revealing stuff about itself that ought to be spoilers. As I mentioned, it's just a mess.
Now, you're probably wondering, is this another soft reboot title? or final title? one of those annoying sequels that keeps the name of the original, even though in canon it's the more recent chapter? Well shit, how about all of that? No seriously, I tried looking this up, and Wiki suggests the following: "At first announced as the reboot of the 2004 American remake and the Japanese horror film 'Ju-On: The Grudge', the film ended up being a sidequel that takes place during and after the events of the 2004 film and its sequels, and is the fourth installment in The Grudge film series." So yeah, it's a bit confusing, but that's where this one fits, apparently.
Now, I kinda get what they might have been going for here. Every character who gets affected by this curse has a big, personal issue going on, which is somewhat its own curse. It could have made some interesting choices in all of its symbolism, but instead we just get a very mean-spirited movie that will crank your depression dial up to 11. I wasn't big on the 2004 version either, but I can at least admit that the imagery in it left a pretty deep impression, regardless of its story. This one only showed be how desensitized I have become as far as the whole ghost thing goes. It's just not that scary anymore, even if it borders on moments of fright. Bottom line, this is a throwaway, plain and simple, and it's kind of a shame to see such a talented cast going to waste here. The first movie of 2020, is a hard, cruel and depressing dud.