Sadako vs. Kayako (2016)

You have to give it to Japanese filmmakers, who are unafraid to mash up franchises and give people what they want. And this was a big deal, combining the  Ju-on (The Grudge for Americans) and the Ring franchises.

The promotion for this movie was insane, with a Twitter contest between Sadako or Kayako to pick Japan’s favorite horror icon, with Sadako winning. Then, there was a press conference where Sadako, Kayako and Toshio attended and never broken character, which is awesome. This was followed by the characters interrupting a baseball game between the Nippon-Ham Fighters and the Yakult Swallows.

I mean, there was even a collaboration with Sanrio’s Hello Kitty for this film. That’s saying something.

The craziness starts when a social worker comes to do a wellness check on an elderly patient, who of course has a VCR that is still playing the infamous tape from Ringu. As if to answer, “Who still needs a VCR in 2016?” the player is sold to a shop, where it ends up in the hands of college kids Yuri Kurahashi and Natsumi Ueno, who want to use it to transfer Natsumi’s parents’ wedding tape to DVD.

However, the cursed tape has now evolved, with better-looking footage, an urban building instead of the traditional well and now, only two days for the curse. As the phone rings, Sadako shows up.

The girls go to their professor, an expert on urban legends, who instead of helping them wants to see Sadako for himself. He watches the tape and brings in an exorcist, who is boiled alive by. the vengeful ghost, who also murders the teacher. Before the exorcist dies, she tells the girls that only the psychic Keizo Tokiwa can save them.

Natsumi blames Yuri for her curse and begins to upload the tape to the internet, hoping to somehow pass the curse away from herself. Keizo soon arrives, accompanied by the blind psychic Tamao, and informs them only by pitting Sadako against Kayako Saeki can they all survive. Meanwhile, Natsumi, who has been trying to kill herself, is hung by Sadako.

Meanwhile, the haunted Saeki house has shown up in a new neighborhood and Toshio has been snapping the necks of bullies and dads.

As for that whole put the ghosts against each other plan goes, it backfires not once but twice, as the vengeful ghosts combine to create one unstoppable entity called Sadakaya. It has the body of Yuri, the appearance of Sadako and moves like both spirits, all with the death rattle of Kayako.

While not anywhere nearly as good as the original franchises by themselves, this is pretty much big budget fan service. It takes a long time to get there, but I had a ton of fun watching it. Not bad for a movie that started off as an April Fool’s Day joke, huh?

Still, nothing in this is quite as good as this theater etiquette video, right?

You can watch this on Shudder.

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