Synopsis: A suburban teen girl and her little brother must stop a terrifying internet meme brought to life by the hysteria of their parents.
Stars: Sara Wolfkind, Shannyn Sossamon, Usman Aly, Callan Farris, Brenda Schmid, Alona Tal, Kayden Alexander Koshelev, Tate Moore
Director: John Ross
TMMM Score: (3/10)
Review: Watching Hulu’s new original film Grimcutty, I kept being reminded of those almost deliberately funny movies within movies you find in horror that a babysitter is watching, half paying attention to as people around her are getting picked off one by one. It has the appropriately scary visuals to get in a few good jolts when a crescendo of fear is needed (and to edit a trailer designed to entice viewers in successfully). Still, the filler in between is just hot air blowing around between the actors. I’ll admit to jumping on the movie when it was available to screen because I longed for an old-fashioned monster thriller—poor me. I paid for my desperation dearly with an experience that didn’t deliver the goods.
A film that’s about as 2022 as you can get, Grimcutty derives its thrills from the sum of issues parents and their children face daily. Struggling to establish healthy lines of communication by breaking through the new ‘head-down’ way of speaking while texting, parents are losing the ability to successfully monitor what their kids are up to when they aren’t around. The internet grants so much access that it’s impossible to police it all and exposure to violent and explicit content is shared quickly and starts early. Internet challenges are rising in popularity, and the more extreme the task, the great the social reward.
Out of these concerns from parents and free-range roaming from their children springs Grimcutty, a towering creature with long limbs, red eyes, and a sharp-toothed smile that will haunt your nightmares. Supposedly when Grimcutty appears, he makes children and teens do terrible things to themselves and, eventually, others. Rumors of kids under the influence of him slashing away at their parents have made their way to the home of Amir and Leah Chaudhry. Amir (Usman Ally, Superintelligence, overacting so much I was afraid he’d burn a hole in my television) is already concerned about the amount of time his kids spend on the internet and advocates for nights out with his wife (Shannyn Sossamon, The Holiday), daughter Asha (Sara Wolfkind) and son Kamran (Callan Farris, C’mon C’mon) without their phones.
Asha has learned of Grimcutty, too, in time for him to appear and begin wreaking havoc on her family. As is often the case, no one believes Asha that Grimcutty is real, viewing the cuts on her body to be self-inflicted and not the result of several terrifying encounters with the creature who prowls around her home at all hours. Working with another friend who believes the Grimcutty lore, Asha tracks the origin to another local family, unknowingly unleashing more potential peril on those unprepared to deal with the pain he inflicts.
Grimcutty is one of those movies with an appetizing central core and a bounty of potential, but absolutely everything around it is maddeningly bland. Admittedly, writer/director John Ross is on to something by using the film, and some of its ethos, to make a statement about the country’s growing disdain toward the inherent selfishness of a generation raised on the internet. The characters (all of them, even the adults) are so unlikable to the point of distraction you start to consider rooting for Grimcutty early in the program. Just watch when a teen is literally having a tug of war with their parent over their phone and in hysterics over losing it. If these are the attitudes that created Grimcutty…maybe a creature like that IS needed to scare sense into people. It doesn’t help matters that the acting is either less than committed or ferociously overbaked.
The scariest thing to me is the overuse of ASMR (auto sensory meridian response) throughout the movie. Asha makes ASMR videos and uploads them to YouTube (hence why she needs her phone to check the view count) and views other similar videos as a way of unwinding. There seems to be a focus by the filmmakers to include a number of these sensory audio cues throughout, perhaps as another way to get in deep with their target audience. Who can honestly know what was going on with some of the decisions made as the film progresses? All I know is that I was watching Grimcutty through noise-canceling headphones late at night on my television and the ASMR sequences gave me the heebie-jeebies far more than any appearance of Grimcutty.
You can easily tell Grimcutty was made quickly and on the cheap – but that’s not an immediate sign it will be an internet fail. Plenty of great movies have been shot with little resources but a lot of ingenuity and spirit. I think where Grimcutty is tripped up is by its length. At 100 minutes, there’s barely enough material to cover ¼ of that time. Why this is a feature-length movie and not a 30-35 minute short as part of an anthology is beyond me. Expanding it to this run time only hurt the premise, the performances, and the lasting reputation of what could have been a good message about cutting the cord…or at least unplugging it for a few hours.