The Grudge Director Addresses Ju-On Creator's Absence And Honouring The Franchise

The latest film in Sony’s The Grudge series has a noticeable absence: Takashi Shimizu, the creator of Ju-On and the person who brought The Grudge to the United States. This has led some fans to wonder if the series should continue without him, but the director behind the latest version promises that it’s a “love letter” to everything that made the original stand out.

“I come to filmmaking first and foremost as a fan, and my movies are always sort of love letters to work that I love,” director Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother) told Gizmodo. “If you’re a fan of his original Japanese films in this franchise, you’re gonna see a lot of that and him in here.”

While visiting the Gizmodo studio at New York Comic Con, we asked Pesce to address concerns about not having Shimizu involved in the latest Grudge film. This movie, which is set in the United States and involves its own haunting separate from the ones in Ju-On and 2003's The Grudge, takes place at the same time as the 2003 version. But even though Shimizu wrote and directed that film, and was involved in The Grudge 2 and 3, he’s not participating in this one.

Pesce noted Shimizu’s absence but highlighted his personal love and fandom of the franchise — noting that he considers his film a tribute to Shimizu’s work. “I came to this movie because I love his early iterations of this movie, and I think what he started when he was just shooting on MiniDV and VHS tape was magical — and I think that Shimizu is not absent from this movie by any means,” he said.

“I come to filmmaking first and foremost as a fan, and my movies are always sort of love letters to work that I love, and if you’re a fan of his original Japanese films in this franchise, you’re gonna see a lot of that and him in here.”

Pesce also clarified that Shimizu hasn’t been involved in all of the Ju-On films, which is true. There have been three Ju-On movies since 2014 without his participation, including 2016's infamous Sadako vs. Kayako crossover with The Ring.

And one of the folks behind that series is involved in the latest film. Takashige Ichise, a writer and producer who worked on those films, is listed as a producer on next year’s The Grudge... though he filed a lawsuit last year to get that producer credit.

The Grudge comes out January 3, 2020. We’ve provided a transcript of his comments below.


Nicolas Pesce, director of The Grudge (2020): The nature of the Grudge is it sort of manifests itself in ways unique to the characters it’s affecting. So for a Japanese character, it’s gonna manifest itself in a uniquely Japanese way, whereas in America, it’s gonna sort of play into the inherent folklore and ideology of ghosts that each of the various characters has.

The Japanese films were so simple in their design and construction in kind of keeping the grounded simplicity of those ghosts. And I think the best thing about those Japanese movies is in the early ones, they have such a low production value that it adds this realism to it that I think that — more than anything — is what we were trying to achieve with this, make it much more grounded, much more emotionally real, and hopefully, as a result, scarier.

I came to this movie because I love his early iterations of this movie, and I think what he started when he was just shooting on MiniDV and VHS tape was magical, and I think that Shimizu is not absent from this movie by any means.

I come to filmmaking first and foremost as a fan, and my movies are always sort of love letters to work that I love, and if you’re a fan of his original Japanese films in this franchise, you’re gonna see a lot of that and him in here. I tried as much as possible to do my own thing with it and do something new, but have all those touchstones that he made uniquely Grudge, and keep that in the film and keep that in my heart throughout the whole time making it.

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