2022 | Not rated (PG-13 equivalent) | starring Sara Wolfkind, Shannya Sossamon, Usman Ally | written & Directed by John Ross | 1 hr 41 mins |
2022 Halloween Horrorfest
Ok. – First thing’s first. I will say I’m not a fan of the blanket horror technique of hiding the monster for most of the film under the guise that it builds suspense. The answer for why this works is more complicated. Jaws set that precedent because Steven Speilburg makes it work in Jaws. The Host shows it’s titular monster in the first 10 minutes and it’s still effective because Bong-Joon Ho folds it into a story that works. However, more often than not that’s an excuse by indie filmmakers who simply don’t have the budget to show the monster. That’s the one saving grace of Grimcutty, a Huluween Hulu original movie that has the audacity to show it’s monster early and often. I don’t know what Grimcutty is, where he comes from or why he looks the way he does – but I know he looks silly and his appearance startlingly early in the movie pops this thing from dower to uninentional camp.
Teenager Asha does ASMR videos on the internet until one day she comes across the Grimcutty meme, an internet challenge that asks participants to cut themselves on camera. Their parents, mom (Shannya Sossamon, Wayward Pines) and dad (Usman Ally) are shocked to learn of the trend and force the kids to lock their screens away in a Detox Box, an act that only provokes the titular monster into showing up and attacking Asha, making her parents think she’s cutting herself and propagating the meme all over town.
Movies still haven’t been able to harness the internet for horror. We’ve gone from ghosts in the machine (Unfriended, Friend Request) to killer apps (Countdown) to killer memes (Truth or Die). Writer/Director John Ross sets about the task of crafting a new horror villain, inspired almost entirely by other bad movies. Grimcutty wants to be Nightmare on Elm Street by way of The Bye Bye Man. It’s premise is unworkable, it’s villain isn’t scary, and it’s heroine is entirely without purpose. Like The Bye Bye Man the rules of it’s villain and universe are unclear and seem to shift with whatever the movie needs next. We learn what causes Grimcutty to go after people, but we don’t know why or even how he kills them. His primary attack seems to be grabbing people, lifting them up and hissing at them. By the end of this film I wasn’t sure if he killed anybody, which is never a particularly good sign for a horror film
Grimcutty looks like a cross between Jack Skellington and Gru from Despicable Me. He goes after his targets only seen by them, allowing him to freely hulk through parties and down hospital hallways. He is brought to life by terrible CGI animation when he moves and decently creepy prosthetics (I think) in close-ups. He grabs you , stabs you and makes people think you’ve cut yourself, sending almost every cast member to the hospital at some point. In one crazy scene we see the town’s hospital waiting room filled with convulsing stab victims. The movie doesn’t bother to explain where he came from or what he is. There isn’t the usual scene where the kids visit a past victim and they deliver an exposition dump about the Grimcutty Curse unleashed in a monastery by an ancient artifact or some s**t. But he’s also so specific and wacky looking that it kind of begs the question. What the heck is this thing? Is he going to be the next gay icon?
Why does Grimcutty come calling? Because parents get wound up about him. The more anxious and frightened they get of Grimcutty coming after their kids, the more he will come after their kids. Circular nonsense. The great (quote) thing about this logic is that from a story point it completely removes young Asha (and the friends who think she’s too uptight) of any arc or responsibility. She has nothing to learn or overcome in order to defeat Grimcutty because the problem isn’t her. Hey, mom and dad, chill out. The teenage fantasy at the core of this movie is that parents just don’t understand. New technology and trends come along and it’s nothing to get worked up about because we teens got this and you are only making things worse. This is what she tells us in her ASMR closing video. It’s laughable.
There is a scene where Asha and her mother investigate the creator of a Mom Blog (Alona Tal, Supernatural) that seems to be the origin of Grimcutty. Why? Because she invented the Detox Box. Clearly, the only reason a mom would want to get teens off screens is because a cartoon monster is coming after them. This detour doesn’t give us much lore either, but mom hides a dark secret and it invites even more questions as to why this blog about screen addiction seems to be possessing the parents of the town with Grimcutty Fear.
Grimcutty is terrible, but movies aren’t binary and this one is so dumb, so silly, so baffling, misguided and poorly done that it might just cycle into So Bad It’s Good Territory. I giggled at this trash quite a bit. Again, probably not a good sign for a horror movie.