We interviewed "The Grudge" star Lin Shaye and director Nicolas Pesce during
their visit to Kuala Lumpur last month.
"The Grudge" star Lin Shaye and director Nicolas Pesce visited Malaysia last month for the movie's Southeast Asia press junket, attended by media from nearby countries such as Cambodia and the Philippines to all the way from Mexico.
The movie, now showing in cinemas, is a fourth entry in the American horror movie series that's based on Japan's "Ju-On" franchise. Different to its predecessors, fans of the original 2004 Japanese movie of the same name will get to see glimpses of it in this English-language version.
Cinema Online had a chance to speak to both Shaye and Pesce, read on for what they have to say about their new movie, "The Grudge":
Nicolas Pesce seen here directing Lin Shaye in one of the scenes in "The Grudge".
Cinema Online: You've had experience adapting a novel by a Japanese author before for your horror movie "Piercing". Did that experience help you when it comes to writing and directing "The Grudge"?
Pesce: Well, I think I definitely have an affinity for the Japanese sensibility when it comes to thrillers, horror movies. I think that, you know, in the sense if "Piercing", there's a sense of humour that a lot of Japanese writers have, even when you're really, really, really dark, there's a playful quality to it.
I think on this one, there's less of that playful quality but I think that I really love how the Japanese culture handles, like, atmosphere and tone when it comes to scary stories. It's a lot about mood. American audiences tend to love like the roller coaster ride and stuff that's in your face, whereas I find that a lot of the Asian storytelling is more about mood and atmosphere and tone and I think that's really fun to play with.
Lin Shaye, you've said before that director Nick welcomes your input during the making of the movie, so what ideas or inputs did you give to him?
Shaye: I don't know if I can be specific. Oh, actually there's this scene –
Pesce: The laughing and the knife.
Shaye: The laughing and also the thing, I love that scene –
Pesce: Oh...yeah, yeah, yeah.
Shaye: – with the nail polish. That scene is not in the movie, which I'm chagrined about, but he says it will be in the director's cut so...
Pesce: The Blu-Ray.
Shaye: Yeah, and it was the first scene we shot, so I just remember thinking it's me having a lucid day, with dementia, that I'm having a good day. Frankie Faison, who plays my husband, and I are sitting on a couch. We never met before, we're immediately, we're a couple, I mean, it was really, Frankie's just the best also, and I thought what about, what if he's putting pink nail polish, like we used to in the old days. 'Cause you get the feeling they had a very traditional marriage, very long time marriage, not a lot of conflict in their life that...it was a very peaceful place, so those kinds of things.
And Nick was, that was sort of my first clue that he was at least, he didn't – like, some directors would go, "No, no!". If you're in television, "No, no time for that!" And just, uhm, I felt very comfortable with you [looks at Pesce] in terms of initiating a thought.
There was also the scene in the kitchen that originally we were supposed to be in the wheelchair 'cause she's in a wheelchair and I felt that was so limiting to the scene. So I asked if I could be – whether I was in the wheelchair all the time or it was sort of a selective thing, within my dementia, sometimes I needed to be in it, sometimes I didn't. So, there was a real team effort in a way and I appreciated it. I'm saying this now [turns to Pesce], I appreciated it so much and it added to my confidence in terms of the character I was creating.
Faith Matheson (Lin Shaye) in the kitchen scene with Detective Muldoon (Andrea Riseborough).
Let's say if you were to come back as a ghost, with a lot of grudge, which location would you choose to haunt? Like in this movie, it's a house, so what about for you guys?
Pesce: That's a good question...hmm...
Shaye: Nick's house!
Pesce: I was thinking a school because I would get a kick out of scaring all the kids.
Shaye: Ooh...now we know, now I know the truth.
Shaye: Uhm, I'm not sure. Uhm, maybe my son. Maybe I'd try to scare my son because he doesn't really believe in any of that stuff too much and uhm, but I wouldn't wanna make him sad. Never mind.
Pesce: She's too nice.
Shaye: Well, I don't know. I'm not that nice. I believe, you know, there is definitely energy that we have no real idea of how it manifests itself. I mean, things do seem to fly out of your hands sometimes, and you go, "What just happened? What was that?" I don't know, you have to behave yourself in a certain way, I think. Keep yourself safe from other people's grudges. [Laughs].
Since you guys do a lot of horror movies, when you're on set, was there actually anyone who was scared of ghosts or anything supernatural? How was it like working with them?
Pesce: I mean, I think, more than like scared of ghosts, I think especially in a movie like this where you have like a young girl, like Melinda, six-year-old girl. And uhm, the moment that her and her mom were getting their makeup on together, and they were all good and happy, looking at themselves in the mirror. As soon as they were done and the little girl, Zoe, looked over at the woman playing Fiona, she just burst into tears.
And you realise, like, it's all fun and games but it's still, you are still making something scary and for the adults in the room, we all know that we're playing pretend but for a kid, it's trickier so I think, like, making sure that you're not actually scaring children and even though I just said I wanted to scare the kids in the school. [Laughs]. You know, that's after that.
Shaye: [Laughs]. He's just a contradictory guy.
Pesce: But I think you know, in real life, you know, I'm not in the business of scaring children. Unless they pay for a movie ticket.
"The Grudge" (2020) links back to the original 2004 Japanese movie of the same name.
People tend to have this aversion towards American or English-language remakes of Asian movies, so are you guys afraid or worried of how people are gonna view "The Grudge"?
Pesce: Well, I think, for me, we haven't remade anything. This is a new instalment into a pre-existing franchise, you know, we're expanding the mythology rather than – so, you know, Kayako, the Japanese ghost, is still in this movie. We haven't like taken anything that was Japanese and made it un-Japanese.
Shaye: Make it American.
Pesce: Like, the movie opens in Japan and in the house – at the house – that the Japanese movie started at. The cops are looking into the old Japanese cases, so sort of important to me that we're not like, uh, yeah Americanising something that's Japanese. This exists in the same universe and it's just a new chapter that's dealing with all the Japanese elements. This is just sort of a new chapter.
Shaye: And new characters, I mean, it's totally, I mean one of the things I, which I finally sort of crystallised in my head, about what makes this different. Also, it is more of an adult – it's not just a scary movie with scares and ghosts, it's basically also about three women of three different generations and their problems in this world. My character having, being older, having the dementia; Andrea's character being a detective, a single mom, with no husband and a child; Betty Gilpin plays a young pregnant woman whose child has been diagnosed with having a possible issue and whether she should abort the child or not.
So these are three very big issues that have to do with real life with people and I think that those issues in jeopardy in a story creates a different atmosphere really that the ghosts inhabit. That you see, uhm, people do vulnerability. For me, the way I saw this, their vulnerability as well as the house contributed to they're being available to the infection and so the weaker you become and the angrier you get about your decisions in life, the more you open yourself up to infection which then pulls you all the way down.
"The Grudge", starring Lin Shaye, Andrea Riseborough, John Cho, Demián Bichir and more, is now haunting big screens nationwide.
Cinema Online, 08 January 2020