The Grudge (2020)
The Dove Take:
This difficult-to-follow spin-off of the original 2002 film showcases evil spirits and graphic violence that aren’t appropriate for most audiences- or anyone else.
A house is cursed by a vengeful ghost that dooms those who enter it with a violent death.
Set in the early 2000’s, The Grudge (2020) is based on the 2002 film Ju-On: The Grudge.
The Grudge begins in medias res—viewers are thrown into the middle of the story with little context of the circumstances surrounding Fiona Landers’ abrupt departure from an apparently haunted house in Japan, returning home to her loving family in the United States.
Two years later, in 2006, a widowed Detective Muldoon moves to Fiona’s town with her son. After finding a body that is apparently related to a case involving the Landers family, Muldoon digs deeper into the brutal family murder that no one seems to want to talk about. The film continues on this path, flashing between the perspectives of the realtors selling the Landers’ home after the murders: Nina and Peter Spencer, the couple who moves into the home after the Landers’: Faith and William Matheson, alongside their “exit guide,” Lorna Moody, and finally the detectives involved in the case both past and present: Detective Muldoon, Detective Goodman and Detective Wilson.
Sound confusing? That’s because it is.
While the idea of The Grudge has a potentially solid horror plot-line, the film contains so many perspective changes and flashbacks that it’s hard to decipher who is who and what happens when. The backstory is never clearly explained. Viewers who have not seen any other Grudge movies will be left confused throughout most of the movie.
The Grudge (2020) is filled with references, inferences, and explicit mentions of evil spirits. It is made clear that Detective Goodman’s encounters with the Lander’s case have made him a very religious man, but aside from a few brief references to Catholic symbolism in Goodman’s home, the film strongly advocates for a demonic presence. Mr. Matheson states, “it feels like the walls between this world and the next are torn down” and that “anyone who has entered [this house] and anyone who will enter here is bound together” by the presence of this demonic creature.
In addition to this, the demon that is the Grudge is seen in plenty of scenes—sometimes taking on its own character, sometimes portraying itself as a deceased character and sometimes even acting to be someone who is still alive. This makes it very difficult for viewers to decipher what or who the Grudge actually is. Every scene depicting the Grudge is horrific and unsettling. Characters are constantly killing their families and even themselves in some cases. In a particularly gory scene, Mrs. Matheson is seen in the kitchen cutting off her own fingers next to her husband, who has been stabbed in the neck with a fork and is bleeding profusely. Details of on-screen murders and violence are shown explicitly.
Suicide is a very prominent theme in The Grudge (2020). Those who have struggled with suicide or have known someone who has committed suicide should be warned to take extreme caution before viewing this film. Multiple main characters commit suicide or attempt to do so. Even the job of Lorna Moody, an “exit guide,” is to assist people with their own suicide.
The Grudge (2020) contains other topics for concern as well. It is implied that the Spencer’s are considering abortion when they discover their child’s almost guaranteed illness. As a momentary silver lining, Nina later states that she wants the child—just before she and the baby are murdered by her husband. There is heavy language throughout the film as well as nearly constant smoking and some social drinking.
Due to heavy, evil elements and graphic violence, this film is Not Dove-approved.