Earlier today, Sony dropped its first trailer for the upcoming Grudge reboot, due out in January 2020. And while the trailer does reek of generic “PG-13” horror (despite the film’s actual “R” rating), it has some very larger implications that make it more than any typical horror remake. Between its unique setting, and connection to the other films, it could very well be the beginning of another cinematic universe!
“Interquel” vs. Remake
While many expected this film to be a complete reboot of The Grudge franchise, director Nicholas Pesce took audiences by surprised, when he announced this film would take place in 2004, concurrently with the events of the original 2004 American remake.
While this isn’t really the first time the series has done this (the sister subplot of The Grudge 2 took place two years before the other segment), it begs the question, what more is there to tell from that seemingly fateful year?
“The Grudge Extended Universe”?
But at the same time, this does provide an interesting opportunity to expand upon the Grudge Universe (for lack of a better term). More so than perhaps any other horror film, the supernatural vengeance dealt out in this series is far more contagious than any other.
It seems to follow people from place to place, and can even infect those who never even went near that original house in Tokyo. The Grudge 2 explored this as a family in Chicago suffered the consequences of Kayako’s curse, solely because their neighbor had gone to the house. Then, in the mostly forgotten Grudge 3, that same curse follows one such family member and affects the staff of a mental hospital.
This has massive implications, as we can explore the growth of this curse to all kinds of locations and situations. Perhaps Kayako’s malevolent spirit becomes even more powerful as it grows. The possibilities are endless, if the studio knows how to play its creative cards properly.
New Direction for the Franchise?
Part of what made the initial 2004 remake so compelling was that it kept director Takashi Shimizu, who directed the original Japanese Ju-on. He would also go on to direct the sequel and produce the third film. With his vision, the American remakes felt very close in tone to the original films, and even kept the Japanese setting.
It’s quite unclear how the American franchise will fare without him. But at the same time, it’s also ventured into “R” rated territory, so perhaps it will be more violent and extreme (something many horror fans will appreciate).
There’s still very little known, and perhaps that’s for the best. With any film like this, there’s already a great deal of preexisting baggage that audiences will bring in with them. It has the potential to be a new start of something amazing, or it could very well be relegated to forgotten mediocrity, as was 2017’s Rings. Only time will tell if the curse of Kayako is here to stay!