Exclusive: Screenwriter Jeff Buhler Talks The Grudge Reboot
In Part 3 of our quartet of recent interviews with prolific horror screenwriter Jeff Buhler, we plunge into the status of Ghost House Pictures’ upcoming re-launch of The Grudge franchise, which he’s scripting.
Buhler, who is known to genre audiences for penning 2008’s Clive Barker-inspired Midnight Meat Train and for writing and directing that year’s feature Insanitarium (and who is also penning the remake of the 1990 film Jacob’s Ladder, the Pet Sematary reboot for Paramount, and the original films Into the Zombie Underworld for Fox and Descendant for Lotus Entertainment/Vinson Films), said of The Grudge, “We are currently doing a final rewrite, following a bunch of interesting notes from Sam Raimi.”
A re-imagining of the mythology originally set forth in director Takashi Shimizu’s 2002 J-horror flick Ju-on: The Grudge and in his 2004 American remake of the same and subsequent 2006 sequel (with a third in the series coming from director Toby Wilkins in 2009), Ghost House has acquired the producing talents of Raimi for the feature reboot, along with Rob Tapert and Taka Ichise. Roy Lee, Doug Davison, Joe Drake, and Nathan Kahane executive produce.
Stated Buhler of the project, “I wrote a version of it, and as you know, it has all new characters and new ghosts, in that the phenomenon occurred again [but] in a different scenario. So, we are building the story from scratch, and although there is a reference to [original Grudge characters] Kayako and Toshio, they are not in this film.”
“For Ghost House, The Grudge is one of their most precious properties, and there are a lot of producers involved, and they all really want this to be successful, and not just a knock-off using the title and a Japanese lady in a wet nightgown,” the writer continued. “They are very serious about rebooting the franchise in a way that makes sense and is intelligent and which delves into real relationships and real people and scares the shit out of the audience. So with that in mind, I’d finished the [earlier] draft, but they wanted the back story of the ghosts to be even scarier. So I’m very pleased because it’s running on high octane now.”
As for working with the legendary The Evil Dead/Spider-Man/Drag Me to Hell director Raimi, “Sam spent a lot of time thinking about it, and here’s the funny thing about working with Sam or [with] Clive Barker,” offered Buhler. “Those guys are not available the whole time, but when they are, the wisdom they drop is invaluable. It’s just incredible how skilled they are with these little nuggets [of creativity] that just open up worlds. And it’s awesome because just recently we came across a couple of those nuggets from Sam, and the script has just really come together.”
Regarding as to when The Grudge may go before cameras, Buhler concluded, “They want to push forward into production as soon as possible, like literally as soon as they can get the script back, so I’m in the middle of rewrites right now.”
In case you missed them, be sure to read Part 1 here of our interview with Buhler and Part 2 here. Stay tuned for our final installment next week, in which we chat with Jeff about his upcoming feature collaboration with Guns N’ Roses guitarist turned filmmaker Slash, The Hell Within.