There aren’t many reasons to remake 2002’s “Ju-On: The Grudge” other than financial ones, but even after a number of sequels and remakes and sequels to remakes, this version arrives impressively assembled by director Nicolas Pesce. The narrative is all over the place and the screenplay is on the weak side, but before you know it, you’ve gotten sucked into the plot, thanks largely to an overqualified cast that digs its claws into the material with panache. Andrea Riseborough (who made a striking impression in 2018’s “Mandy”) is totally believable as a grieving police officer, while top-tier character actors like John Cho, Betty Gilpin and Lin Shaye make appearances in the movie’s vignette-like structure that each manage to stand out. There are also some genuinely scary scenes along the way that spice things up once in a while, and there’s an unmistakably ominous tone throughout that keeps you engaged despite some narrative shortcomings. It won’t win any awards for originality, but ultimately, this is better than it has any right to be.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)