‘The Grudge’ Reboot Director Explains What Makes the Series Different

Every week seems to bring news of a different film franchise getting the reboot treatment. But horror, in particular, commonly falls prey to this approach. At this point, fans would be hard-pressed to find a horror series that has yet to get a remake and/or reboot.

So when news of The Grudge reboot broke, fans might have felt understandably skeptical about the project at first. After all, so many horror reboots/remakes have fallen flat in recent years. Yet, according to writer/director Nicolas Pesce, The Grudge is in a category all its own.

Writer/director Nicolas Pesce
Writer/director Nicolas Pesce | Jeff Vespa/WireImage

How did ‘The Grudge’ franchise start?

Ironically, fans decrying the concept of a reboot clearly don’t know their horror history. After all, the 2004 Grudge — which starred Sarah Michelle Gellar — is itself a remake of 2002 Japanese film Ju-On: The Grudge. Both were even directed by the same filmmaker, Takashi Shimizu.

Shimizu also returned for both the American and Japanese sequels to those respective films. Moreover, he directed Ju-On: The Curse and its sequel, which even pre-date the Grudge films. The franchise has since expanded in Shimizu’s absence with four more Ju-On sequels, a direct-to-video American sequel, and a Japanese cross-over with the Ring franchise.

Pesce signed on to write and direct the reboot in 2017. He previously directed 2016 horror film The Eyes of My Mother and 2018 thriller Piercing. His Grudge is expected to expand the mythology without sacrificing the spirit of the franchise.

Nicolas Pesce breaks down the reboot

At this point, it’s unclear what elements from previous installments will make their way into Pesce’s film. But the director does believe the storytelling structure of The Grudge franchise makes it the ideal candidate for reboots. Pesce recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the film.

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. 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.

So many horror franchises have become defined by a specific hero or villain. But Pesce is right about this distinction being an asset for The Grudge. The series has always been about interpreting the mythology and iconography in creative new ways.

Will ‘The Grudge’ prove to be a hit?

As series like Halloween ultimately return back to their roots, The Grudge can push ahead without alienating fans. Bringing new faces in to face its ghastly apparitions stays true to the series’ roots. Moreover, it provides a jumping-on point for new fans to get interested without missing a beat.

Only time will tell how Pesce’s edition of The Grudge will perform at the box office. January tends to be a pretty quiet time at the theater. So The Grudge will likely have the first half of the month to itself.

Even better, January tends to be a breeding ground for sleeper hits. Horror especially tends to thrive here. If Pesce’s film performs well, expect to see a whole new wave of entries heading your way like a ghost with a score to settle.

The Grudge hits theaters on January 3, 2020.