There’s a compelling core of something interesting at the heart of Grimcuttynew Hulu writer/director’s film John Ross. The film is a treatise on hysterical helicopter parents, the dangers of social media challenges, and growing concern over healthy screen time. These are valid (though not entirely new) concerns, and horror is a great lens through which to explore them.
The problem is not Grimcuttypremise, but rather its execution. It’s a messy movie, with substantial logical flaws, more of a set-chewing performance, and a running time that isn’t earned by its relatively thin and repetitive script.
The film opens solidly: mother Melinda Jaynes (Alona Tal) locks up his young son Brandon (Kayden Alexander Koshelev) in his bedroom at night, apparently in an effort to protect him from Grimcutty’s hidden figure (Joel Ezra Hebner) outside. When Brandon sneaks out to grab a knife in the kitchen, he’s threatened by the huge monster that has broken in. Confronted by the creature in front of him, Brandon rushes to his mother…and stabs her.
This scene, and the Jaynes, will go unnoticed until the end of the film. Instead, the action pivots to follow teenager Asha Chaudhry (Sara Wolfkind), a middle-class suburban teenager who recently quit the track crew to make ASMR videos for a non-existent YouTube audience. Asha’s parents, Leah (Shannyn Sossamon) and Amir (Usman Ally) don’t understand their daughter’s decision, fearing she’s depressed and worrying about the time she spends online. They try to enforce “free family phone outings,” then get upset when she sneaks out to be obsessed with provocative influencer Cassidy Johnston (Tate Moore).
Amir and Leah’s concern grows when the group chat they belong to warns of Grimcutty, a new internet challenge that encourages children to self-harm. As they frantically search the web, Asha is attacked by the creature in the kitchen, but when the police arrive, neither her parents nor the cops believe Asha.
The creature design is easily Grimcuttyis the best asset. Sporting impossibly long, slender limbs and a giant oval head, Grimcutty is visually striking, especially Hebner’s movements as the tall, hulking monster glides through doors and down hallways.
Following what they believe to be a self-induced attack, Asha’s parents offer the family to dump their phones and laptops in a rehab box, spouting cult phrases such as “Get your game back. concentration” and “reduce your screen time while waiting”. “Despite similar efforts by other parents, the Grimcutty incidents spread and, in no time, children were being pulled from school and cut off from technology.
As an example of the speed and ridiculousness of parental hysteria (a modern equivalent of “Does anyone please do you think about children?!”), Grimcutty kind of work. The problem is that as Asha’s “Dark Web”, Cassidy and Asha using techno-genius younger brother Kamran (Callan Faris) unite to uncover the origins of the social media urban legend, it’s hard to ignore the ridiculous storylines of adult plans.
Grimcutty exists in a fictional world that posits that if parents took away phones and laptops, teenagers would have no way to go online. Apparently there are no internet cafes, libraries or cafes in the unnamed town where the film is set? Even in a small town, it would be impossible to suppress teenage access, which makes the vast majority of the film completely unbelievable.
Then there’s the suggestion that Amir and Leah can afford to stay home indefinitely in order to control their children, while at school the administrators have taken all the computers offline and started forcibly evicting the kids. students protesting against the new “fascist” regime (the word is used twice, with one character insisting that he will go to the police if his parents try to take his phone).
Fortunately, Wolfkind is a compelling lead, so even when the plot is crazy, watching Asha solve the mystery is engaging. Her relationship with Kamran is one of the strongest character-driven elements of the movie (the siblings affectionately refer to each other as “dumb” and “dumb,” which sounds perfect). And while Cassidy is an intriguing counterpoint to Asha, frequently remarking that Asha isn’t as zen as she portrays in her ASMR videos, Moore doesn’t get enough screen time. Plus: A third act revealing Cassidy’s history with suicide feels awfully brief and emotionally manipulative.
Unfortunately, teenagers are much more fleshed out than adults. Sossamon, sporting a surprisingly cruel haircut which is the most memorable part of his character, doesn’t have much to do. However, she does better than Ally, whose Amir just overreacts, screams and thunders for most of the film. In a disconcerting moment, Amir shouts at his wife: “They already tried. They use our networks to incite violence…against a particular community like ours. It’s the film’s only acknowledgment that the Chaudry family is POC, but exactly who “they” Amir is referring to or in what context, is never unpacked. The line is dull and feels uncomfortable.
It’s ultimately a huge problem that all adults are one-dimensional: they don’t listen, they don’t believe, and they don’t trust their children. And it’s boring. The movie keeps coming back to the same tired generational debate about the dangers of being online, which could have worked in a period piece, but in 2022 it feels incredibly outdated (note to filmmakers: the internet is nothing new !). Clearly Grimcutty draws on concerns about real social media challenges and even real crime incidents like Slenderman, but examining these issues is too superficial and obvious.
While some of the action scenes are entertaining, like Asha’s escape from Grimcutty at a crowded party and a dangerous showdown in the Jaynes’ house, they’re just not strong enough to counter the film’s repetitive message. on parents, adolescents and the Internet. clocking in at a hundred minutes, Grimcutty feels about forty minutes too long.
It’s a shame because the movie has a scary monster design and a strong lead performance from Wolfkind. Overall, however, Grimcutty just doesn’t have enough to say and it greatly overstays its welcome. Hulu fans In the dark or “Welcome to the Blumhouse” may find it satisfying, but in a horror market oversaturated with so many other strong titles, Grimcutty just isn’t memorable enough to stand out.