Ever since the 2003 release of ‘Freddy vs. Jason’ there has been a need for more horror creature throwdowns and now we see one in the most unlikely of places in ‘Sadako vs Kayako.’ Yes, folks, it is the battle of the creepy people with funky hair as ‘Sadako vs Kayako’ throws the demonic spirits from ‘The Ring’ and “The Grudge’ franchises against one another which has been made available stateside on Shudder this week. Technically, it is actually pitting the creatures in their original forms from ‘Ringu’ vs ‘Ju-On’ which the Americanized versions were based on.
While you don’t need to be familiar with all of the films, it will help. Especially the ‘Ringu’ franchise which has six films out in Japan which this is more of a continuation of. If you really want to get into the mythos though it is the ‘Ju-On’ films which were the basis of ‘The Grudge’ which will give you the most bang for its buck as it had spawned eleven movies, not including the three American releases.
So, with both franchises lagging behind on sales in recent years the obvious solution was to pair the spirits in both up and against one another. While the film more tackles the realm of ‘Ringu’ it really does a fantastic job at fitting both sets of mythologies into one compact feature that was surprisingly fun to watch. Honestly, if you’ve only seen the American versions of the films this wouldn’t be hard to follow with what director Koji Shiraishi was able to put together.
Which is a bonus as he’s a virgin to both series.
The plot starts off with two girls who watch the cursed tape that means Sadako is going to kill them within two days. Right after that, we flash to another young woman who has moved next door to a haunted house which is, of course, the home of Kayako who kills anyone who enters. These women come together with an exorcist who decides that the best way to solve both of their problems is to find a way to have the spirits take each other out.
Honestly, this is quite possibly the best way to rid yourself of either curse that I’ve heard to date! I mean of course that it is a horrible idea but the director knows that he has a campy plot to work with and gives us a surprisingly strong amount of humor sprinkled throughout the narrative. Especially from an exorcist and his sidekick who are the only calm ones throughout the entire affair and give some fantastically funny commentary.
The horror falls a bit short as the two entities have both best been shown on screen in slow burns and very mood driven narratives where setting the scene takes precedence which they just don’t have time for here. That being said, as a horror comedy it really works well when the horror itself falls short and I was surprised at how much I ended up enjoying this movie.
Sadly, the part of the film I need to knock down is the anticlimactic fight scene between the two. It’s short, it’s very CGI, and the climax is delivered without any real payoff to the audience. If they had been able to find a way to extend this and deliver something more this would be a must watch for horror fans instead of just something I would say to check out if you already enjoy the franchises.
Stuart Conover is an author, blogger, and all around geek. When not busy being a father and husband he tries to spend as much time as possible immersed in comic books, science fiction, and horror! Would you like to know more? Follow him on Twitter!