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New entries to prestigious horror franchises almost always pay homage to the spooky fare that came before. That’s part of the job — and the love the new director holds for the original entries likely factored into their hiring in the first place. But few directors stuffed their reboots with as many Easter eggs, references, and winks to the rest of the franchise as The Grudge’s Nicolas Pesce.
The director broke out with spooky indie The Eyes of My Mother in 2016, but held great love for Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-On franchise. With 13 movies, two comics, and a video game adding to the extended horror universe, Pesce had plenty to pull from when crafting his 2020 entry — and he pulled from almost everything.
Pesce, in a special feature on the home release of the film, went through dozens of his nods to the greater Ju-On world. Here are some of the best:
- The Japanese residence at the opening of the film is the Saeki home from the original franchise and the person Fiona is speaking to on the phone is Yoko, the girl whose jaw is ripped off in The Grudge (2004). They even speak of Alex at the care center, whom Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Karen works for in the older film.
- The “arm out of a trash bag” attack is a direct reference to a similar attack in Ju-On: The Curse.
- The numeral 4, an unlucky number in Japanese since it’s pronounced like “death,” is found in all the homes’ addresses (like 44 Reyburn Drive) and the times on the clocks.
- The police station’s address lacks fours...but it is 999, AKA 666 upside-down.
- The scene where Andrea Riseborough’s Detective Muldoon almost hits a girl with her car refers to a similar scene in Ju-On: The Grudge 2.
- John Cho’s realtor is a nod to the Japanese films’ real estate agents while his shower shock (a hand comes out of his head) is the same as Gellar’s in the 2004 version.
- Cho’s character has many parallels with Kobayashi, Toshio’s teacher from the first Ju-on. They don’t realize the kids they’re around are ghosts and both their pregnant wives are killed.
- Muldoon’s dive into the curse uncovers the files on Kayako, Toshio, and Taeko Saeki — all from the first few Ju-On films.
- Muldoon’s police station encounter with a ghost comes from the franchise's Nintendo Wii game that puts the security guard player in a storage area with nothing but a flashlight...and some ghosts.
- Lin Shaye’s gory finger-chopping scene is an image lifted entirely from the Ju-On comic.
- The finale, where Muldoon burns down the house, is an homage to many other Grudge entries...and it works about as well, which is to say, not at all.
The Grudge is out on digital on March 10, and on Blu-ray and DVD on March 24.