The Grudge’s Director On Expanding The Horror Franchise’s Mythology

The Grudge’s Director On Expanding The Horror Franchise’s Mythology
Image: Ghost House Pictures

The Grudge may conjure up images of Japanese women with stringy black hair and tiny hollow-eyed boys crawling on ceilings and causing murderous mischief. But the titular Grudge isn’t limited to the island of Japan. Director Nicolas Pesce explained to Gizmodo why The Grudge has moved to the United States, and why it may be an international crisis.

We chatted with Pesce late last year about why this version of The Grudge moves the location from Japan to the U.S. He also explained how hard they worked to have it take place at the same time as the Sarah Michelle Gellar movie (turns out not very hard, apart from the accuracy of cell phones).

Nicolas Pesce: Well first, without saying too much, there is…a little taste of Japan in this movie, physically. Like we will go to Japan.

If you know The Grudge movies well, you’ll see a very clever little way that we’ve sort of inserted this movie into the canon using something that they had done in the early films that they set up that we kind of fill in a blank for and then go off in the other direction. We all know what was happening in Japan around The Grudge and the Saeki house in the early 2000s. Well, here’s what was going on in other places that are also aware of what was happening in Japan.

And a big thing of this movie is kind of just showing, yes, the movies have traditionally been uniquely Japanese, but the mythology says that it’s essentially like the most contagious virus ever. So the fact that it’s not realistic that it would stay in Japan, this thing has spread. It’s not only in Japan. It’s not only in America even. And a lot of this movie is just kind of showing how sprawling this curse can be.

I didn’t want it to feel like, oh, we’re just doing a modern Grudge, because the time isn’t really that important. Like we never even talked about time period aside from like what cell phones they’re on. Back to the earliest of the movies, it was an anthology so every movie is a different story, a different location, different characters. So, The Grudge provided us with an opportunity to not really have to like remake anything but kind of just add a new chapter to the canon.

The Grudge releases January 9 in Australia.