Sadako vs Kayako review

I saw Sadako vs. Kayako at Fantastic Fest last year under the best possible circumstances: in a movie theater packed with horror fans after midnight while I was just weary enough for every jump scare to jolt life back into me. The film itself is pretty fun and a good time if you have any investment at all in The Ring, The Grudge, and their many sequels, but I do wonder how it will play at home. After all, that’s where most people are going to see it, as horror streaming service Shudder has locked down the rights and will release it tomorrow, January 26, 2017. In the meantime, you can check out a new clip from the film that shows off some of the earlier scares.

Because the promise of the title (a brawl between the two most famous evil ghosts in Japanese horror) doesn’t come together until the final act, Sadako vs. Kayako spends the bulk of its time acting as two completely separate Ring and Grudge movies, eventually slamming the two storylines together in the homestretch. Interestingly, it’s the Sadako/Ring stuff that really drives the actual plot, much like how Freddy vs. Jason is really a Nightmare on Elm Street sequel that happens to feature the killer from Friday the 13th.

However, the clip below comes from the Kayako storyline and showcases what happens when a group of bullies chase an innocent kid into an abandoned house that a couple of vengeful spirits call home. If you’ve seen any Grudge movies, you have a pretty good idea what to expect.

As a scary movie, Sadako vs. Kayako is fine at best. Thankfully, the film is actually really funny and knows exactly how ridiculous its premise truly is. As I wrote in my review:

The humor is actually the most successful aspect of Sadako vs Kayako, which has too much on its plate to capture the slow, creeping dread that defines the best entires of these characters’ solo outings. There are plenty of jump scares and few genuinely creepy moments (both Sadako and Kayako are allowed to rack up an impressive body count), but director Kôji Shiraishi keeps things moving at a brisk pace. After all, he has to service two storylines and only has 98 minutes to do so. The goofy, self-aware comedy works well at a sprint as the horror suffers. 

If you go into this one with your expectations in check, you should have a good time. And since you’ve surely taken my advice and have a Shudder subscription, it should be easy enough to check it out.

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