Grimcutty begins with a young boy, his hands and wrists covered in bandaids, sneaking out of his room as his mover reads articles about internet challenges. As he makes his way downstairs and gets a knife a half-glimpsed figure, Grimcutty (Joel Ezra Hebner, Slay Belles, Ant-Man), slips into the house. The boy then stabs his mother, apparently at the creature’s command.
After that we meet our main characters, Asha Chaudhry (Sara Wolfkind, Love All You Have Left, Kid Fix), her younger brother Kamran (Callan Farris, Kings, The Rocketeer), and their parents Leah (Shannyn Sossamon, There Are No Saints, Catacombs) and Amir (Usman Ally, A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Hunt). Asha has recently quit the track team to devote her time to creating ASMR videos.
Rather than encourage her they blame “internet addiction” for her decision. Which leads to mandatory phone-free outings and other measures. Of course, they don’t give up their group chats, one of which warns them about something called the “Grimcutty Challenge”.
Writer/director John Ross (Shadows of the Dead, The Birch) gets things off to a good start with an effective prologue and a vibe that feeds off of the whole 1980s “Satanic Panic”, no relation to the movie, which saw people burning heavy metal albums and trying to have Dungeons and Dragons games outlawed. There’s also some decent family drama built up as Asha’s parents refer to her attempts to become a successful influencer but support Kamran’s equally unlikely dreams of becoming a professional saxophone player.
If he could have maintained this, Grimcutty could have been an interesting film. Unfortunately, after Asha gets attacked by Grimcutty the film manages to make the creature’s existence the most believable thing in the script.
Her parents don’t believe her and accuse her of cutting herself as part of the challenge. That makes sense, locking all of the family’s laptops and phones in a “Detox Box” on the other hand is ridiculous. I guess neither parent gets calls from work or has to schedule doctor’s appointments.
After a couple of other kids are attacked all of the town’s parents seem to come to a collective decision to force their kids offline. And get the school to go along with it. Apparently, nobody in this town has an IQ above room temperature or can think for themselves. Or thought about how their kids are supposed to do their schoolwork without being able to research anything.
As for the creature Grimcutty, it looks like another internet-related creature, Slenderman, only with a stupid looking CGI monster head. This means it works better when it’s just seen as a creepy-looking outline in the distance and doesn’t make you want to laugh. Joel Ezra Hebner does a good job in the creature’s suit and helps give Grimcutty’s attacks an air of menace. Several of the scenes of him stalking Asha are effectively creepy and the attacks feel threatening even if we’re fairly sure how the film will play out.
The way the creature manifests, somehow summoned into material form by the parent’s outrage and anger is an interesting concept. Grimcutty is, in effect, a self-created monster whose appearances are brought on by the emotions generated by his previous appearance. But that still leaves the question of where did he come from in the first place?
Unfortunately, a few halfway-decent attack scenes and some interesting but undeveloped ideas can’t save Grimcutty from a terrible script and a lack of interesting characters beyond the two leads. The parents, most of whom act like they’ve never been on the internet in their lives, are like cardboard cutouts and the film’s one somewhat interesting character, a rival YouTuber named Cassidy (Tate Moore, The Surrogate, Stood Up) is quickly sidelined.
With a better script, this could have been a decent monster movie with a subtext about the psychology of things like The Tide Pod Challenge, or closer to the film’s theme The Blue Whale Challenge and mass hysteria in general. Unfortunately, the film we got is more dim than grim.
Grimcutty is available on Hulu and Disney+ in the US and Disney+ in other countries. If you want something similar but hopefully better, FilmTagger can make some recommendations.