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If you’ve ever been chilled by the feel of your own fingers carding through your hair, you probably have ‘The Grudge’ to thank for that.

The epic horror film — which features an iconic shower scene where Sarah Michelle Geller encounters an extra pair of hands on her head while shampooing — is back in theatres this weekend with a brand new R rating.

The latest instalment of the spine-tingling classic about a curse that haunts and kills its victims is simply named ‘The Grudge’, much like the 2004 English-language adaptation of the 2002 Japanese film ‘Ju-On: The Grudge’, but it’s not exactly a reboot. So, how does it all connect?

BACK TO BASICS?

First introduced to American audiences 15 years ago, and directed by Takashi Shimizu in 2004, the original ‘Grudge’ starred Michelle Gellar as an American nurse in Tokyo, who comes across a mysterious supernatural curse that locks a person in a powerful rage before killing them.

The curse comes alive when someone dies in the grip of punishing rage. The catch? Anyone who encounters the supernatural entity dies, prompting the rebirth of the curse, and creating an endless loop of horror.

Though there were two English sequels to ‘The Grudge’, they didn’t fare as well, and ‘The Grudge 3’ was a direct-to-video release.

But writer Jeff Buhler said that the new movie would introduce new characters, ghosts and mythologies, while holding onto the spirit of the original films.

THE GRUDGE (2020): NEW TIMELINE

29-year-old horror director Nicolas Pesce (‘The Eyes of My Mother’, ‘Piercing’) picks up the plot in 2004, where the first American film left off.

A homicide detective (Andrea Riseborough) inspects a haunted house after a series of gruesome murders.

“When Detective Muldoon arrives at the house she’s trying to investigate, she finds a true house of horrors,” said Pesce. “It’s a tapestry of stories that are loosely connected, all surrounding this house. So we had an opportunity with this franchise to not remake anything, but rather add a new instalment into the franchise — a new chapter to the canon.”

Much like the original film, Pesce plays around with timelines, cutting between different stories and families.

“You’re given vignettes that you don’t fully understand how they connect, truncated stories that, at first, feel divorced from each other, until you get through the whole movie,” said Pesce, calling it somewhat of a “puzzle movie.”

RETURN OF KAYAKO

Central antagonist Kayako Saeki — known for her pale face and long, black hair parted midway and covering her face — will be played by Junko Bailey.

Kayako is a key part of the Ju-on horror franchise. She was portrayed by actress Takako Fuji in all the films, both Japanese and English, until ‘The Grudge 3’, when Fuji retired from the character and was replaced by Aiko Horiuchi.

“When we made the original in 2004, horror was still on the outside, and it was still for the cult audience. But it has now moved into the mainstream,” said producer Sam Raimi.

The film also stars Demian Bichir, John Cho and Jacki Weaver.

ADULT-ONLY RATING

The biggest difference with ‘The Grudge’ (2020) might be the film’s 18-and-over certification.

“We thought it was time to push ‘The Grudge’ to the next level,” said producer Raimi. “The fact that [director] Nick can make this film with an R rating is a great weapon in the arsenal of a storyteller whose goal is to terrify the audience. He can portray these vengeful ghosts really harming their victims, and he can show blood on the screen without fear of it being cut.”

But executive producer Schuyler Weiss clarified that the ghosts don’t physically harm their victims, but rather, drive them to harm themselves.

“These ghosts are themselves terrifying. But they don’t do anything to the people. They drive them to a kind of madness that leads them to do horrible things to themselves and each other,” said Weiss. “So the most terrifying menaces in the movie are the people themselves. The most gory, visceral, shocking moments are the things these characters to do themselves and to each other. That’s real horror.”

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Don’t miss it!

‘The Grudge’ is out in the UAE on January 2.