9 October 2017 | totalovrdose
If you were to encounter a film titled 'Sadako Vs Kayako', I imagine you'd expect much of the film to be a death match between two of Japan's most renowned ghouls. Sadly, these famed frighteners only appear in the same room together in the final few scenes, the lead up to their encounter been unnecessarily long-winded.
The film centres on two story lines, which gradually intersect. The first involves Suzuka (Tina Tamashiro), who enlists the help of her friend, Yuri (Mizuki Yamamoto) to drag her parents wedding video into the 21st century as an anniversary gift. Purchasing a used VCR to do the job, Yuri finds a tape inside. Three guesses who this tape belongs to.
Suzuka happens to watch the tape, only to discover she now has 48 hours to live, rather than the stereotypical 7 days. Considering Sadako Vs Kayako rarely takes the time to honour its inspired source material, it's occasionally difficult to trust the filmmakers with the product. In fact, watching the legends that have been created around these known ghosts get torn down in exchange for unappreciated thrills is almost as painful as watching the film itself.
Worried for the sake of her friend, Yuri enlists the help of Shinichi (Masahiro Komoto), a professor infatuated with Japanese urban legends, his knowledge of Sadako's tape been of use. Like most secondary characters however, Shinichi's role is only to progress the narrative, the lacking depth applied to all characters largely resulting in conversations that are plastic and one dimensional.
If the film is hard to swallow before the arrival of natural exorcist Koyozo (Masanobu Ando), who can terrify away ghosts with a snap of his finger, and his young accomplice, the blind Tamao (Mai Kikuchi), the feature is incredibly difficult to digest after. Both look to be cosplayers who happened to step onto the set by accident, their total lack of empathy only making it more difficult to accept them as characters. Through Shinichi, Yuri is introduced to Koyozo, who is heralded as the last hope she has to save her friend.
The second narrative taking place, which is only occasionally glimpsed, revolves around Natsumi (Aaimi Satsukawa), who happens to move in next door to Kayako, the deathly house frequently calling out to her.
It is Sadako however that steals the show most of all, her silent, shambling movements constantly giving me goose bumps. When the feature embraces the subtlety of the horror franchises it is adopting, Sadako Vs Kayako works effectively, the ambiance evoking a sense of dread. Unfortunately, the feature typically opts for in-your-face violence, which is seldom scary or entertaining.
Unlike Freddy Vs Jason before it which revelled in the homicidal bloodlust of its antagonists, Sadako Vs Kayako revels in its own absurdity. Though I am a fan of Ju-On and Ringu, I can't deny both franchises have overstayed their welcome, becoming mere shadows of what they once were, the filmmakers possibly aware of this, considering at times the feature appears to be making a joke at its own expense, resulting in a series of cheesy moments.
Considering the number of unanswered questions which still exist as the credits roll, Sadako Vs Kyoko feels more like a television pilot than a complete film. Whether a sequel will answer these is anyone's guess. As for who wins the fight – you'll have to watch to find out...