For decades now Hollywood and pillaged Japanese film and adapted them. The adaptation usually pale in comparison to the Japanese originals. Two horror films of this ilk that attracted plenty of viewers were The Grudge (Ju-on) and The Ring (Ringu) Now, in a case of one upmanship, Japan has taken back what was theirs to begin with and combined the two film franchises. Doubling your pleasure…or fright.
Sadako vs. Kayako, directed and written by Koji Shiraishi (Noroi: The Curse, Grotesque), involves the evil spirits involved in The Grudge and The Ring facing off against one another. There really is very little story and it is summed up perfectly by the title of the film. It is Sadako vs. Kayako. Plain and simple.
A young woman watches the tape of Sadako and as such only has a few days left to live. Sadako was trapped in a well for 2 days and as such to gain revenge she kills those who watch the tape a couple of days (changed from 7 days in the other films) after they’ve seen it. In an attempt to save herself she brings the tape to the Kayakos. The Kayakos are a mother and son who were murdered by their husband/father. The mother fell in love with another man and her husband, after finding out about it, kills her. He then kills their son as he has witnessed his father murdering his mother. The mother and son are now spirits who now haunt the house they were killed in and kill whoever enters it. Bottom line is that when the Sadako is released they will have the Kayakos to wage battle against.
A film like this has very little to do with the acting or story and everything to do with the atmosphere created and the way it looks. It will succeed or fail based upon those two things. The special effects are great, a real home run. The story, however, is rather weak and loads of time is wasted in the build-up rather than the pay off. Then when you experience the climax you realize that it is rather weak as well. That is because both spirits are mindless just existing to kill. Nothing to sink your teeth into here.
It is a rather odd story, but still in the usual vein of Japanese horror or J-Horror. That being an expert in spirits/monsters/creatures gets them to wage battle on each other. When Sadako and Kayako finally face off the result is a too short fight sequence. This is what we waded through the other junk for? Pfft! Plus the ending is silly and sudden setting things up for a sequel. Which precious few people hope will come.
There are plenty of broken necks that occur here, though there is very little gore. One thing it does do well is not to take itself too seriously. There is an undercurrent of humour running throughout the film as it knows that the whole concept is ridiculous. It does keep the spooky element as well despite the humour (intended or not).
Jason vs. Freddy. Alien vs. Predator. There has been a slew of two successful film franchises being stuck together in order to breathe new life into them. Precious few have been successful and with Sadako vs. Kayako sadly that trend continues. An anticipated mash-up as each of the film franchises has millions of fans, but the result is a disappointment.