The Grudge Reboot Panel at New York Comic-Con Live Recap

grudge reboot

The Grudge is the latest horror film franchise to be getting a reboot - which is ironic, since the 2004 film starring Buffy's Sarah Michelle Gellar was already a remake of the popular J-Horror film, Ju-on. However, this particular reboot comes with the intrigue of having filmmaker Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spider-Man Trilogy) attached. This new Grudge also boasts some to-notch talent, including Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion), John Cho (Exorcist: The Series), Lin Shaye (Insidious), Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) and Betty Gilpin (GLOW). Leading this new vision is Nicolas Pesce, who made the cult-hit horror film, The Eyes of My Mother.

The Grudge came to New York Comic-Con with something to prove, and now is the time to see if it does just that!

In attendance at the panel were Sam Raimi, Nicolas Pesce, Lin Shaye, Andrea Riseborough and Betty Gilpin. First Look Footage was then shown.

The first Footage is done much like IT: Chapter Two's first trailer, featuring a scene of Riseborough's detective investigatign the home of Shaye's elderly lady character. The detective quickly discerns something is wrong, as Shaye is shown to be dishevled and panicked, eventually revealing blackened, severed fingers on one hand, and the maggot ridden corpse of her husband seated in a chair. A montage of footage plays that shows the familiar iconography of the series, with a shower scene and ghost hands featuring John Cho, and the familiar sight of the horrible long-haired ghost girl rising up from watery depths. There's also a lot of shots of real bloody injury and death being featured, hammering home that this an R-rated version of The Grudge that fans hoped for.

Raimi states that this version of The Grudge follows the premise that this enraged spirit has now emigrated to America from Japan, setting up a whole new franchise of how Americans relate to and deal with such a thing.

Pesce makes it clear in no uncertain terms: the version of The Grudge that came with the 2000s J-horror wave were, "F*cked up. But this is way more F*cked up," with the expanded allowances of the R-Rating.

Riseborough claims this film terrified her (a sentiment Gilpn echeos), but they had a lot of trust in Pesce; Shaey delights in the fact that she gets to be "really F*cked up" in this film, as opposed to the PG-13 horror franchise she's known for (Insidious).

The lead actresses each discuss the phenomenon of trying to evoke the sense of fear and terror when filming a horror film. Riseborough describes needing a spot of tea and a biscuit in order to bring herself down; Gilpin had a great description of an actor trying to fool the 99 senses in her head to generate a fake fight-or-fight response - and then the burden of trying to calm those 99 senses back down after calling cut. Details why the more gruesome role as her character, Faith, was much different than what we saw in Insidious.

Pesce describes the expanding mythology of The Grudge he's exploring. He makes it clear it's not a traditional remake or reboot; it's an exploration of how this phenomenon can "spread like wildfire," and what "The Grudge" is, and how it functions. He explains that while there are plenty of J-Horror homages like the shower hand shot, they also want to push forward. He describes how The Grudge's nature - the ability to "take advantage of the crack in your soul" and manifest your own personal nightmare curse allows him to play around; and how the look of the ghosts in the J-Horror films were based on Japanese Kabuki theater, and while they were frightening, he will explore those same spirits expressed in more American folklore tradition of what ghosts look like.

The actresses discuss the changing times in cinema, and where the horror genre is today. Riseborough and Shaye talk about how the genre both allows people ot unify in a cathartic experience of fear, and can empower people. Gilpin says that horror, and conveying fear, is blessedly simple in its expectations: you're either making people scared, or you're not.

Riseborough tries to describe the internal struggle and arc of her character. It gets a bit muddled, as she clearly takes her acting quite seriously, but she manages to convey her detective character's connection to her child is a major part of the movie.

Shaye shares that Faith and her husband (Frankie Faison) got to share a nice little arc in the film. Faith has Alzheimers, apparently, and when the Grudge consumes her, it will be a horrific transformation. There is storng implication that Faith does something pretty horrific to her husband.

Gilpin reveals that her character is pregnant with John Cho's character's baby. She goes into her method of structuring her character's psychological arc throghout the film. She teases that it could be a big twist in the movie, but called it a very artistically fulfilling experience.

Raimi says the succesful formula for re-launching something like this is combining rich characters, this type of acting talent and a visionary director.

More footage was shown. It was a brief but horrific scene, which showed Jackie Weaver's character (seemingly an in-home caretaker or guest of some sort) checking on Faith and her husband downstairs in the kitchen. She finds the husband dead on the floor stabbed with a fork in his neck - while we then get the pleasure of seeing the moment Faith cut off her own fingers, in excruciatingly gruesome detail. The clip ended with Weaver's character screaming and running for the door, while a blood-covered Faith states plainly "He was going to kill me," before cackling maniacally.


The panel then moved into a Q&A section, where Raimi teased that this Grudge will also have a lot of mystery, in the sense that the complete story will be non-linear (like the first movie), and to fully understand the scope of what happens, fans will have to pay attention. Pesce also stated that film is "serious" with a "lot of dark subject matter." It's not going to be a feel good time.

The Grudge hits theaters on January 3, 2020.