Stars: Runa Endo, Elly Nanami, Mizuki Yamamoto, Tina Tamashiro, Aimi Satsukawa, Misato Tanaka, Masahiro Kômoto, Masanobu Andô, Rintaro Shibamoto, Maiko Kikuchi | Written by Takashi Shimizu, Kôji Suzuki | Directed by Kôji Shiraishi
In the battle of horror film icons, it is fair to say that the dream match-up was of course Freddy vs. Jason. A fun film, it could never live up to the expectation created around it, which could be a problem faced with Sadako vs. Kayako. Pitting The Ring against The Grudge is something of a dream match, but can it live up to expectation?
When the cursed video tape is once again watched, two friends find themselves on a race against time to stop the curse. With the help of spiritual medium Kyozo (Masanobu Andô) their may be a chance, by pitting Sadako against Kayako the known ghost who haunts a nearby house. When another girl is cursed by the house though, she is also dragged into the battle between two of the most notorious horror movie villains.
Sadako vs. Kayako is a coming together of two similar spiritual forces, and it is interesting to see just how they will do battle. Depending on what you want from the film though you may be disappointed. What we see in the film is a much more Japanese style of horror (which comes as no surprise) which means a slow methodical build-up to the battle. We don’t get the big set pieces of Freddy vs. Jason, but this doesn’t make it a disappointment.
There are certain elements of the movie that make me believe that this film would have been better as an anime movie. Kyozo is a good example of this, with his blind sidekick who appears to be able to see the spirits while he manages to do battle against them. This little team is a highlight of the movie, though the scene stealers of course are the ghosts themselves. I would love to see a Kyozo spin-off though of some kind.
While I did say that Sadako vs. Kayako is a slow burner in terms of build-up to the battle this doesn’t mean that we don’t see plenty of deaths. Kayako is much speedier in her attacks, and when Sadako does take victims she is as omnipotent as ever. This builds them both up well as unstoppable monsters who show no pity. This isn’t a movie where the monster suddenly decides to save the victim at the end through some silly connection, this is a fight to the death.
If the film has one weakness for me, it is the ending. This is obviously set-up to create a sequel, but the way the conclusion plays out makes the film feel like it never really ended. This is a little disappointing, but in a way understandable to keep the enigma around the two iconic horror characters intact.
When Sadako vs. Kayako delivers though, it does it well. The way the two demonic creatures do battle is surprisingly handled well, and the feeling that they will just keep on coming back for more is successfully shown on-screen. There is no wink to the audience here, no fourth wall is broken, this is all about a believable coming together of two unstoppable forces.
If a sequel is released for Sadako vs. Kayako I’d not be surprised. Fans of The Ring (Ringu) and Ju-On: The Grudge will no doubt enjoy the film, though may not be happy about the ending. If there is one thing that we take away from the film though, it is that Kyozo and his sidekick need a spin-off of some form.
Sadako vs. Kayako is available exclusively from Shudder.com now.