Fans at New York Comic Con 2019 were among the first to see a clip from 2020's The Grudge reboot, a series that hasn't returned to American theaters since The Grudge 2 in 2006 (I'm not counting The Grudge 3, a direct-to-DVD film from 2009).
The new film, which is being produced by Sam Raimi and directed by Nicolas Pesce, includes stars Andrea Riseborough, Lin Shaye, Betty Gilpin and John Cho. Pesce said the film will include nonlinear storytelling like what's seen in the Japanese and previous English-language films, while otherwise featuring a new cast and an R rating.
"We don't want to throw everything out; there's certain stuff that it's just fun for the fans to see again but in a new context," Pesce said during the movie's Comic Con panel on Thursday.
One thing that'll stay the same, however: it's very easy to become infected by the Grudge's curse.
"Once you set foot in the house, you're screwed, and it spreads like a virus," Pesce said, noting that he doesn't consider the film a remake or reboot in the traditional sense. "It was about finding those key elements that are just how the Grudge expresses itself."
The clips revealed that Lin Shaye's character, Faith Matheson, will become heavily corrupted by the evil Grudge spirit, complete with shaking behavior and a cackling laugh.
The first clip has Riseborough's Detective Muldoon entering Matheson's house, the latter being very shaky. Matheson approaches Muldoon, grabs her by the hand and asks for her help. As Matheson backs away, she discovers a destroyed corpse that was once Matheson's husband. A quick montage of characters dealing with horror and a look at the pale girl with black hair associated with the curse ends with John Cho's character taking a shower. While in the shower, the hands of the Grudge curse reach out from the back of his head.
The second clip dives further into the corrupted version of Matheson, in which a caretaker enters the home happy to see Matheson on her feet. As the caretaker approaches, however, she sees Matheson hacking away at something in the kitchen. Getting closer, she discovers Matheson's husband murdered on the floor, screaming out, "What did you do!" Matheson screams back, "He tried to kill me" before revealing that she was hacking off her own hand. Matheson then lets out a cackle from the Grudge curse. (It's a haunting cackle by the way, the stuff that plague my nightmares.)
Shaye said audiences will get to see a version of Matheson before the Grudge curse takes hold.
"There's one wonderfully written scene between me and my husband, played by Frankie Faison. Faith has Alzheimer's and so we meet her and her husband on a good day when you see more of what their relationship was like when they first married," Shaye said. "She's deteriorating because of the illness but once the evil also penetrates her, it devours her."
Shaye explained that as a result, her character is more of a victim of the curse.
"The gruesome reality of someone self-mutilating or killing or destroying someone they love is a devastating story point and I think that's what makes her tragic in some way," Shaye said.
While in seemingly another storyline from Shaye and Riseborough's, Gilpin's Nina Spencer is the wife of John Cho's character who is five months pregnant with their child. Gilpin explains that before the Grudge curse even enters their storyline, her character will be taking a different perspective on having a child than is normally seen in movies.
"It's rare that you see the woman who's pregnant struggle with how she feels about becoming a mother," Gilpin said. She added that her character won't immediately realize how she's involved with the Grudge curse.
This new take on The Grudge will hit theaters on Jan. 3, 2020.
Correction, 8:01 p.m. PT: An earlier version of this story misidentified actress Betty Gilpin.