A new movie based on The Grudge has been in the works for a few years now. The current version of this new movie will be produced by Sam Raimi and directed by Nicholas Pesce, though of yet we've been unclear as to whether this movie will follow the continuity of the previous 2004 film (which is itself based on the Japanese Ju-on series), whether it's a remake, a reboot, or what.
Thankfully, Pesce, Raimi, and some of the cast and crew from the new movie came to NYCC 2019 to let everybody in on what this new Grudge will be all about, and SYFY WIRE was there.
Partaking in the panel was Raimi and Pesce, as well as castmembers Andrea Riseborough (Muldoon), Betty Gilpin (Nina), and Lin Shaye (Faith).
There was much ado made about how this version of The Grudge is finally rated R, and that was right before they showed the first footage ever screened from the film.
We saw Muldoon knocking at Faith's door, eventually gaining entrance. Something is very wrong with Faith, and finally Muldoon asks if they are alone in the house. All hell starts to break loose after Faith pleads with Muldoon...and then her pleading turns to huge cackling. Following that, we saw a barrage of horror imagery, with almost everyone screaming at some point. The trailer ended with a shot of castmember John Cho (Peter) topless in the shower — the audience was definitely into that image, and then he felt the back of his head. That's right, the iconic hand came out of the back of it before we cut to black.
On the nature of what the movie actually is (a reboot, a remake, a continuation), everyone seemed to agree it was more of a continuation of the existing lore, rather than something that tells a story we already know. “It’s kind of a lore that keeps going," Raimi said. "Both the lore and the curse. When someone dies in a terrible rage, something dark is there and it won’t let go. That’s a story that’s as relevant today as always."
Raimi also praised Pesce, saying that finding him was part of the reason that it was okay to continue this story. As he said, “He can let this spirit really scare the audience, he can show that The Grudge is in the hands of a madman." Pesce added onto that, saying, "Now we have an opportunity to really lean into that deeper character study stuff that audiences love so much. Just by the nature of being rated R, the movie’s way more f***ed up.”
Riseborough also commented on Pesce's work, saying, “I’ve seen his work and it’s f***ing terrifying. I wanted to do it because I wanted to work with Nick.” Shaye commented that she's never gotten to be this "f***ked up in a movie" before, and that this is a mythology where "evil knows no boundaries, and effects all people in different ways." She adds, "You enter this mythology and you can’t get out until the end of the movie.”
Gilpin admitted that she might not watch the finished, horrifying product, but she also added, “Being in a horror movie with these stakes was a new kind of disturbing that I enjoyed." From what she's seen in ADR sessions, she says, "It’s the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen.”
This is Gilpin's first horror movie, and her acting process involved telling her body that it was in an emergency. “The van rides home in Winnipeg, your heart rate is up and you have to tell yourself it wasn’t real," she said. Shaye added, “Your body doesn’t know you’re pretending. The fear, the fight or flight aspect comes into play, even though we’re pretending.”
For Pesce, it was definitely a "tricky dance" (as he said) as to what iconic things to bring back for this film.
“It was about finding that balance, we’re not rehashing the same stories you’ve seen before, but finding those key elements. The Grudge can happen anywhere. Obviously we don’t want to throw everything out. There’s odes to the old films, both visually and stylistically, but it is a whole new story."
Shaye revealed that Frankie Faison plays her husband in the movie, and also that her character will suffer from Alzheimer's. An earlier scene in the movie shows what her happy marriage could have been, before she gets devoured by the curse. This plays directly into the second bit of footage shown.
We don't want to spoil it too much, but we'll just say that it involved a deranged Faith cutting her own fingers off, laughing the whole time. It was quite unsettling.
When asked about keeping various franchises alive, Raimi said, "You have to destroy the original, move on, and recreate it in a new way while paying tribute to it." He was also asked when he would direct again, and he said that it would have to be a script that he personally felt very strongly about.
Why might audiences want to check out this movie? Gilpin probsbly had the most intriguing answer:
“It’s hard to fake, being afraid. It’s sort of the last unifying, guttural, Greek feeling that we have”
The Grudge is set to release the curse on January 3rd, 2020.
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