Horror films coming out in the recent past have been increasingly trying to include contemporary cultural elements in their narratives. While its insertion may not always lead to fruitful and insightful results, these elements make their presence felt through characters, dialogues, and actions. The new Hulu movie – ‘Grimcutty’ is one such example where the fear regarding social media and the increasing screen time in teens is highlighted through a monstrous manifestation of the same feeling. We witness a horror tale within its 100 minutes of runtime that shows the heightened anxiety related to these modern technologies and the adverse effect they have on our lives.
Grimcutty (2022) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
The film begins with a young kid scared of a monster that visits him at his home. The kid rushes to the kitchen to get hold of a knife. He seems awfully scared of this strange-looking creature while his mother is browsing through the internet. She is looking at different articles that describe the adverse effects of social media and the strange online challenges that teenagers become prey to. The kid brings the knife out of the kitchen and holds it is facing his mother, which terrifies her. She tells him not to hurt himself as he did before. Right after her appeal, he goes on to stab her.
The scene cuts to the film’s central narrative that follows the story of Asha Chaudhry (Sara Wolfkind), who is recording an ASMR video for her YouTube channel. The ASMR includes crushing sounds of several objects that help people calm and soothe. When she comes out of her room, she is beckoned by her father – Amir (Usman Ally), to keep her phone at home just like them, which she reluctantly follows. They go to a jazz concert where her younger brother, Kamran (Callan Farris), plays the trumpet. He and his wife, Leah (Shannyn Sossamon), speak with a parent couple about their children’s screen time and their low attention span. This is where Amir first learns about a strange internet challenge involving a monster (that we see before) called Grimcutty because teenagers are cutting themselves.
Meanwhile, Asha comes out to speak with her friend, who mentions a popular kid from their school – Cassidy Johnston (Tate Moore). She commented ‘Wow’ on one of Asha’s posts, which this friend thinks to be in ironic fashion. Their chat gets interrupted when Amir comes out to speak with her. He mentions taking her phone out of sheer concern so that she would have a normal childhood. At home, Amir looks at Asha’s social media handles that casually mention mental health issues. He also comes across some information about Grimcutty that alarms him. He calls both Asha and Kamran to speak about it and warns them not to get caught up in it.
When she returns to her room, she scrolls through her social media posts to read about Grimcutty and, later at night, sees Grimcutty in person. She starts screaming immediately, which scares her parent to the point of calling the police. The cops mention it being just an online challenge while she insists on actually seeing it. After this incident, the parents decide to take their digital devices to put in a ‘detox box.’ It frustrates Asha, but Kamran happily does it like a good kid.
She later goes to his room to get the personal laptop he has been hiding from his parents. From that, she manages to contact her friends, who mention the tales about this monster and get the ‘Grimcutty talk’ from their parents. She then comes out of her room, gets her phone back from the detox box, and goes out of the house to speak with these friends. The parents look around for her while she tries to hide from them. When she goes to the bathroom, Grimcutty blocks the door from shutting and starts cutting her with a knife. She starts screaming, right after which Amir reaches there and destroys it. That’s when we see that it was Asha cutting herself.
Because of this terrifying incident, Amir and Leah think she does not go to school the next day. She denies doing so and goes to school the next day. The school invites a stand-up comic to make the students that show up at the school feel relaxed. Between his act, Cassidy and Asha come out and start speaking about the stupidity of the limitations on them. They go to a party of a rich kid where everyone ridicules being fearful of Grimcutty. Yet, when Asha searches for the monster in this house, she gets visited by it and ends up harming him. Meanwhile, Amir realizes that Asha’s not at school, tries to find her, and reaches the rich kid’s house with Leah. Thankfully, he reaches Asha before her harming incident could go to any extreme.
While scouring through the internet in that house, Asha learns from Cassidy about Melinda (Alona Tal). She is the same mother we see at the beginning that the child cut. The latter mentions adversities of the internet, which also has a link to an article about Grimcutty. However, the article is not available to see on the website anymore. Since all the local parents share the exact details about the detox box and screen time, both the teens consider it to be brainwashing done by the likes of Melinda. Before harming herself, she also contacts Kamran about it, who uses their home internet on his laptop. Amir realizes the person using their internet is Kamran and returns home. Right before he reaches to alarm the kid, Grimcutty pops out from the outside and strangles him.
They rush to the hospital, where Asha meets Cassidy again and speak about Grimcutty. They consider their parents freaking out, making the monster stronger, and decide to find a way to stop it. Asha then goes to Melinda’s house to speak about it, but Melinda does not disclose any details. She manages to sneak into her house and finds her son locked inside his room. When she tries speaking with him, the mother points a gun at her head and threatens to kill her. Leah shows up at Melinda’s house to see if Asha’s there. While her daughter keeps telling her what Melinda did to her, Leah takes her out of the house to her car. Despite being worried for Asha, she comes out of her car and returns to Leah’s house to confront her about her kid, who is in danger as per what Asha mentioned. Despite her not giving permission, Leah enters her house. While Melinda puts a gun to her head, she still takes Melinda’s kid to the hospital.
Grimcutty (2022) ‘Hulu’ Movie Review:
An uneven horror flick about the perils of the digital media
‘Grimcutty,’ written and directed by John Ross, ‘Grimcutty’ aspires to be a horror tale where controlling parents are the monsters. I don’t wholly agree with this notion, to begin with. Parents can try to help their kids, not just to be the best parents but simply because they care about them. The over-controlling nature can get on the nerves, especially how some parents keep limiting everything that provides joy to their children. But that doesn’t mean that lesser screen time or having a conversation about something on the internet should be dismissed entirely. Of course, a generational gap will make it harder for the older ones to understand what young people try to say or mean.
But a refusal to have any conversation seems far-fetched. In the film, we witness the distance between the parents and children regarding understanding the digital space. The paranoia related to ‘not understanding it or their children completely’ intensifies the horror about the monster. While the film ignites the thought process and occasionally feels stimulating, it dulls its impact by using conventional jump scares that frighten you less and bore you more.
It feels like a better suspense film where we constantly wish the nightmare of these people to end. However, the varying level of impressiveness makes the film’s impact significantly lessen. The bad performances do not help either. And while the actors aren’t incompetent in eliciting genuine emotions, their work in Grimcutty feels stale mainly. While I may overlook my reservations about the film’s intent, I can’t ignore the loopholes that take you out of the film’s thrill to leave you uninterested in investigating the issues further.
The narrative logic hinders to-and-fro throughout the film’s duration, because of which, I hardly felt the element of horror. The script meanders after a certain point and seems less focused on its core theme. Our changing perceptions of the characters are central to unraveling the core of the film’s narrative. However, it feels too uneven to take Grimcutty (the personification of the exaggerated horror about the internet) seriously.
Grimcutty (2022) ‘Hulu’ Movie Ending, Explained:
What does Grimcutty represent in the story?
In the hospital, Asha learns about Cassidy’s suicide attempt, which seems difficult for her to survive. Leah tells Amir that their kids aren’t delusional, but they, as parents, need to understand the situation better and control their fear and paranoia. She gives him an injection shot that he could use to control the monster’s growth any further. However, Amir continues with his over-controlling behavior towards the kid related to their exposure to the subject of Grimcutty on the internet. While it harms Kamran, the monster also comes in to haunt Asha yet again.
While Amir keeps up with his concerns, Asha stabs him. Then she runs out only to be strangled by the monster who lifts her in the air. Amir follows her being irritated but realizes that the same irritation is behind Asha’s struggle. He injects himself with the shot that Leah provided. The film ends with an ASMR recording done by Asha explaining all the details about her father doing fine after her stabbing and the importance of the parents not entirely understanding their children’s lives. She mentions that until there is another parent like Melinda, who tries to control their children, Grimcutty probably won’t return. What the film concludes is the monster is a manifestation of their parents’ fears and anxieties.