Released: 10th October
Seen: 2nd November
One of the wild things about horror films is how quickly they can jump on something new and find the terror in it, take the mundane and make it into the malicious. Recent years have shown a lot of ways this can be done, from something as simple as an app being turned into an instrument of foretold death in Countdown to a pair of jeans turning into sentient killers in Slaxx and even if the films aren’t great, they can at least be interesting on some level… and then there’s Grimcutty, a film that takes the concept of a killer meme and turns it into boring sludge that isn’t interesting even if you squint.
Oh, and trigger warning for discussions of suicide because that’s a major theme of this film and it’s impossible not to talk about it on some level.
Grimcutty imagines a world where a meme image of a strange-looking creature known as the Grimcutty is convincing young people to commit suicide. This meme gets the attention of worried parents Leah (Shannyn Sossamon) & Amir (Usman Ally) Chaudhry who fear that this meme might end up in some way affecting their kids, Asha (Sara Wolfkind) and Kamran (Callan Farris). In order to try and stop something from happening they confiscate all the kid’s electronics but it’s too late, Grimcutty is already starting to attack the kids because Grimcutty is actually powered by the parent’s fear. Now the kids must somehow get their parents to stop being total assholes about everything or else they might die, which would at least be interesting on some level.
It’s not like the concept behind Grimcutty is a bad idea, indeed the idea of an internet meme coercing people who see it into killing themselves has been explored before in much better films like #Blue_Whale or Suicide Club and it can create something that’s shocking and memorable by how it handles the material… Grimcutty handles it badly, neither making a film so serious that we have to pay attention to the important message it’s delivering nor doing so far in the extreme end that there’s a perverse enjoyment to be found. It just sits right in the middle, preaching its moral about the parents overreacting to stupid meme culture but without the teeth to back it up.
In the world that’s being presented here, Grimcutty is a creature that only exists because of the adults overreacting to a piece of internet culture that they don’t understand, it’s about parents being overprotective of their kids to the point of paranoia. This is a double-edged sword because the more the adults panic, the stronger the Grimcutty gets which means it can make the child appear to be doing more self-harm which in turn makes the adults panic more – the cycle goes on forever.
Now, this could be an interesting commentary on how parental panic over harmless internet stuff actually hurts the children in the long run, but Grimcutty offers no solution here other than… actually it just offers no real solution, that’d require something like the creature being defeated due to clear communication between the parents and children but nope, we don’t get that. We’re not going to talk about how they actually dispatch the creature in the end because that’d be a spoiler (saying the bad guy in a horror film gets dispatched isn’t a spoiler, it’s standard in the genre) but the way it’s handled doesn’t do anything to add to the story. It’s an ending because they needed an ending, no matter how unsatisfying it might be.
It also really doesn’t help that the actual Grimcutty creature doesn’t look scary, he looks stupid. He looks like Ryuk from Deathnote if he got stung by a thousand bees and every time he’s seen on screen it’s hard not to laugh at how stupid he looks. Now there’s nothing wrong with a silly-looking villain in a horror film, this is a genre that has made villains out of Snowmen, Gingerbread Men and Turkeys… except those films knew that their idea was stupid and treated it as such, Grimcutty thinks it’s incredibly serious which is wild considering the name Grimcutty feels like what you would say in a game of taboo to try and get someone to guess the phrase “Sad Self-Harm”
Then there are the actual human characters that we have to contend with, all of whom are various shades of dull except for the adult characters who are just outright abusive. Obviously, the film wants to make the parents overprotective, it’s part of the core concept and that’s fine except Grimcutty starts all the parents at the maximum amount of worried for no damn reason and it can’t go any higher after that. They pretty much start at “abusive” and ride that train constantly the entire time right up until they’re magically OK with technology again for no damn reason. There is no slow dread, no build-up, they start at a 10 and they end at a 10 and it’s not even a fun overacting 10, it’s just a bad one-note performance from everyone involved.
Grimcutty just isn’t that good, it’s playing with a heavy topic without knowing what to do with it. It doesn’t say something truly important, it doesn’t push to the point of absurdity, its neither shocking nor fun… it just kind of exists, occasionally breaking up the monotony to make loud noises and have people on screen screaming in hopes that maybe the audience will join in. Not this audience member, there’s nothing here to scream about unless it’s a scream of irritation.