Sadako vs. Kayako (UK Rating: N/A)When it comes to Japanese horror, there are few characters that are as well known or as significant in the modern day as Sadako from The Ring and Kayako from The Grudge. Even for those who do not watch world cinema, these names are likely familiar thanks to the big Western adaptations the movies received. Originally, Sadako vs. Kayako was teased as an April Fools' gag but after the video went viral, real production began. While the film has yet to receive a British physical release, it is available now on the Netflix for horror movies, Shudder.
The prospect of this movie was very exciting for Japanese horror fans, but early on in its production it was evident this wasn't going to keep to the same tone as the movies from which these horrific ladies originate. It's obvious that parallels are going to be drawn between this and Freddy vs. Jason, and they are sadly quite appropriate. While the films that preceded it make up some of the scariest J-Horror of all time, this will be winning no such accolades, instead delivering a silly, over the top and, at times, satirical movie.
From here, the trio is in a race against time to find some way to lift the curse and stop Sadako - a common theme from the previous films. How it goes about it, though, is… odd; it involves calling in a slick, super exorcist named Keizo Tokiwa and his bad-ass, blind, psychic, young girl assistant, Tamao. This pair is introduced like the audience should know who they are… but they are original characters. It's unclear if the team behind this were hoping to build something for them off the back of this movie.
When Keizo rocks up into town, he finds out another girl has been going through some spiritual suffering, too. An old haunted house is killing off those stupid enough to wander inside, thanks to Kayako, along with her meowing son, Toshio, taking up residence. A local lass has peered too closely and gotten herself cursed, doomed to return to the house and get killed soon. Keizo has the genius plan to take Sadako and Kayako and "LET THEM FIGHT!" Pitting the two Onryo against one another in a supernatural smackdown for the ages, hoping they would kill each other and do away with the curses.
Sadako vs. Kayako is silly and over-the-top, but it embraces the ridiculousness and delivers something that often feels more satirical than a straight movie. Keizo and Tamao are a great example of this, with their running commentary of the goings on and the deadpan humour they deliver. Long time fans of either franchise will understand that neither has lived up to the chilling masterpieces of their heyday in a very long time; they have become repetitive and often almost a parody of what they were, so this can hardly damage the lineage. There are a handful of scares, too, even if it's sadly degraded to jump scares now.