An excerpt from Reals’ script review for The Grudge (2020) which will be available 01/13/2020:
Hope you had a safe and restful holiday season, but it is now January, and you know what that means? It is Hollywood’s dumping ground for films that are either A. Late awards contenders or B. Not very good.
With that said, today I have the awards-darling script The Grudge (2020) for your reading pleasure! This thing is a remake of a remake, which usually doesn’t bode well for the quality or necessity of the film (as in providing an answer to the “Why was this made?” question)
That said, this film does have a lot going for it:
The Cast – An all-star cast including John Cho (fantastic as a leading man in the film Searching), Demián Bichir (who you would know from The Nun and/or The Hateful Eight, but I want to specifically praise his performance in the under-seen FX show The Bridge), Betty Gilpin (who is great in Netflix’s Glow) and Lin Shaye (a horror icon)
The R-rating – Typically, studios have been tempted to drop a Pg-13 horror film in January to attract the teen-crowd and make a bunch of money off a so-so, lower budget horror project. Here, as this is a remake of a remake, the studio seemed to have enough confidence in the property to let the filmmakers go nuts with the gore and scares.
The Writer – While I was not a fan of Piercing, Nicolas Pesce is making a name for himself in the horror community as a writer of high-concept cerebral scares. He jumped onto the scene with The Eyes of My Mother and now is tackling The Grudge, so it could be interesting to see what he can bring to the project.
Now, the final film is not getting much love from critics (16% on Rotten Tomatoes) or audiences (22% on Rotten Tomatoes) but today let’s look at the script and see what worked, what needed work and what we can learn!
The Introduction of Peter & Nina – I really like the scene from pages 3 – 4 that sets up Nina and Peter. In just one scene, we set up the characters (Peter is a loving husband, dedicated to his family) and Nina (nervous about her pregnancy and having second thoughts) conflicts (Nina is not happy, they are – potentially – too old to be having children and Peter is oblivious to Nina’s concerns)
This is all done quickly and visually (with the way Nina and Peter act and respond to questions from the Nurse – which also gives actors a chance to act!)
Then, it is followed by a scene of the couple hearing the news that their child will likely not live past the age of 10, due to ALD, giving us some empathy for them and their situation.
The Atmosphere – I like the atmosphere that the writer builds in the haunted house. Things like the temperature always being extremely cold in the house, strange noises throughout the house, and the sense that something is very wrong every time a character steps inside.
Little things like this help immerse the reader and give a creepy atmosphere to the story and setting.
The Unsettling Scenes – What I mean by this is scenes that are spine-tingling, but not outright scary. Things that will not make you jump, but will creep you out and stay with you long after you’ve finished reading the script.
An example of what I am talking about is meeting young Melinda Landers on page 15 and following her into the empty house. This is unsettling, because she is just a small child, but she is clearly alone in the house and not being taken care of. Plus, she will not speak to Peter or tell him what is wrong and we are tense, because we know that Peter is potentially in danger.
There is also a creepy scene on page 36 where Detective Muldoon finds Faith (or Mrs. Matheson as she is sometimes referred to in the script) covered in blood with her hands sliced up.
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