The Grudge Reboot Gets First Terrifying Trailer

IGN has a first look at the initial trailer for the latest iteration of The Grudge, which will have ties both to the classic Ju-On series that originated the property in Japan as well as the 2004 U.S. adaptation. The film series has remained thriving overseas, with a recent crossover with Ringu (essentially The Grudge vs. The Ring, so think Freddy vs. Jason levels of hype), but it hasn't been active here in the U.S. since 2009's direct-to-video sequel The Grudge 3. The idea of reviving the franchise seems inevitable not just because every big franchise is getting a fresh coat of paint in recent years but also because after the huge success of The Grudge, it seemed like a missed opportunity that American studios never figured out how to really crack the code on a sequel.

Andrea Riseborough plays the lead in the film, taking on the role of a police officer in a new town how comes across a house that has become "grudged," or haunted by the victim of a brutal murder. It takes place at the same time as the 2004 film.

“We follow her, as well as two other storylines, that are all interacting with this grudged house in small town America,” director Nicolas Pesce recently revealed. “Like the old films, it’s a tapestry of three different stories that interweave and all take place at slightly different times, centered around this one house that’s at the center of this case that this cop is working on.”

The Grudge franchise, Pesce says, is the kind of pliable and versatile mythology behind the story lends itself to multiple iterations, making the reboot feel a little less arbitrary than many others.

“The beauty of The Grudge franchise, both the American and Japanese iterations, is it’s an anthology series. Every movie is a different story of different characters having different interactions with this curse,” the director said. “In today’s age where we’re remaking everything, I thought it would be fun to dive into The Grudge universe where we don’t have to remake anything, but rather a new chapter in this canon.”

Like so many horror movies -- implicitly something like Friday the 13th or Halloween but more explicitly like the Final Destination series -- Pesce says that he thinks the scariest thing about the movies is the apparent inevitability of the consequences.

“I think the most compelling thing about the grudge is that it’s inescapable. All you need to do is walk into a house that feels unassuming, and you’re screwed,” Pesce said. “It’s not your traditional haunted house movie where you pull up to a creepy, Gothic-looking house and go, ‘oh god that’s haunted.’ A motif of all the films, especially this one, is that behind the most normal kind of house, inside the most normal-seeming life, there can be something horrifying — whether it’s real and grounded, or something otherworldly and terrifying, it can happen anywhere, behind any door, to anyone. It’s unique to this story and philosophically terrifying.”

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The Grudge arrives in theaters on January 3, 2020.