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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 25, 2016

Sadako Vs. Kayako Movie Review: Two Icons Of Japanese Horror Flicks In An Exciting Face Off/ Showdown

HORROR MOVIE fans will surely enjoy “Sadako vs.Kayako”, the showdown between two scary figures from past hit fright flicks. Their movies started in the early 2000s and they have since become horror icons in their own right. Sadako is the ghost from the blockbuster “The Ring” series who later on had her own hit “Sadako” movie franchise. Kayako is the ghost from the hit “Ju On” series.

This project began as a joke with a fake April Fool’s Day trailer on the website of the last “Ju On” flick showing the ultimate face off between the evil spirits of Japanese Horror’s two most popular franchises. It’s just like past other movie showdowns such as Jason of “Friday the 13th” vs. Freddy Kruger of “Nightmare on Elm St.”, giants “Godzilla vs. Mothra”, sci-fi monsters “Alien Vs Predator”, superheroes “Batman V Superman”.

Now, “Sadako vs. Kayako” has become a reality. It’s directed by Koji Shiraishi, who has directed another horror hit, “Noroi”. In the story, Yuri (Mizuki Yamamoto), a college student, finds a cursed videotape stuck in an old video recorder she got from a thrift store. She and her friend Natsumi (Aimi Satsukawa) just came from a lecture on urban legends, one of which concerns the story of Sadako, and they realize that after they watched the videotape, they are now doomed two also die in two days, just like the characters in “The Ring”. They ask the help of their college professor, Morishige (Masahiro Komoto), but he, too, becomes a victim of Sadako’s curse.

Meantime, another student, Suzuka (Tina Tamashiro), strays into the old haunted Saeki house in Ju On, where a horrifying murder and suicide once happened. This makes her the target of the curse of the vicious ghost, Kayako, and her son, Toshio. Writers Takashi Shimizu and Koji Suzuki make sure no stone is left unturned to pull out scares in their desire to terrify the audience.

Keizo, an exorcist-ghost hunter, and Tamao, a blind psychic, both learn about the dangers faced by Yuri and Suzuka. They then try to help and cook up a plan to pit the two vengeful spirits, Sadako and Kayako, in a deadly fight against each other to make this a crossover horror flick. They are hoping that, in the process, the two evil entities will be both eliminated and demolished for good.

This duel movie between titular horror stars Sadako and Kayako is well produced with good production values, top notch special effects, effective makeup and plenty of jump scares to jolt the viewers. Kayako is portrayed by actress Runa Endo who is also a dancer, which explains why she moves so convincingly in her role as a spider-like entity that walks on all fours. Giving great support is Mai Kikuchi as the blind psychic girl Tamao and Masanobu Ando as the confident exorcist Keizo.

Viewers will no doubt be pleased by the amazing climax showing the big battle between the two ghosts, which succeeds as a campy homage to both Sadako and Kayako played for laughs with a surprise twist at the ending (so wait until the end credits are over and don’t leave your seats right away.) But we all know getting rid of the two ghosts is not an easy thing to do. What if the movie becomes a blockbuster worldwide? Then they would have to be resurrected again for a sequel, right? Or maybe, those who’re tired of them should just start singing: “If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call…”