Ghost vs. Ghost
Sadako vs. Kayako (2016) had all the elements to become a supernatural tour de force lock-up worthy of a pay-per-view. (Now that I think about it, that’s what VOD is.) Regardless, the Japanese horror match with Sadako the long black haired ghost chick that crawls out of wells/TV screens from The Ring franchise, and Kayako, the long black hair ghost chick that crawls down stairs on her stomach from the Ju-on Grudge series, should’ve been a box office bonanza for these two iconic ghosts. Instead, it turned into a slow-moving, frightless flick made for teens. To put a sharper point on it, teens are more scary than this movie.
To access these vengeful ghost gals is easy. For Sadako, just watch a cursed video tape. Then the phone rings and it’s Sadako informing you of deadness by death in 48 hours. With Kayako, just poke around the abandoned house where she “lives” with that pasty white kid in diapers who makes cat growl sounds. Once inside, she spider crawls down the stairs and pretty much ends your existence with just a blink of her one eyeball. (Wonder if she wears contacts?)
Two high school chicks learn about Sadako from their urban legends teacher, then later go to a junk shop and buy an old VCR, which just happens to have the cursed tape still in it. Like all teens they burn it onto a disc and upload it to the Internet, where it goes viral. Now that’s some efficient population control. Of course, one of the girls actually watches the tape and the phone rings. Nice not knowing you.
Over at Kayako’s house, four young school boys go inside and…school’s out forever. This was witnessed by the teen girl across the street who is made stinky by the curse of Kayako. And now we have the dots in place to connect how this movie is supposed to work.
A botched exorcism with the girl earmarked for death introduces us to Keizo Tokiwa, a ghostbuster with psychic powers, who whips his hand around the doomed victim to expel said curse. Doesn’t always work. Must not be whipping hard enough. The die-now-pay-later teen kills herself with a belt wrapped around her neck instead of sagging britches. This leaves the unkilled friend and the girl across the street whose parents Kayako just ghosted (in a confusing sequence that made about much sense as the little boy who talks like a wet cat) to all gather at the Kayako’s house for the big showdown.
And here’s where all the pointlessness could’ve been salvaged — the two scariest poltergeists in Japan’s movie history finally facing off. Keizo theorized that the ghost gals would cancel each others’ curses when their disparate energies collide. Guess what didn’t happen? Their first meeting had them evenly matched and nothing really happens except a lot of flailing black hair and everyone ending up in the well outside. (Who even has one of those in a middle class neighborhood? If I was middle class, I might consider having one installed — without the bucket retrievable curses.)
With no pay-off, Sadako vs. Kayako is a BIG let-down. There was so little screen time for both S and K, you wonder how someone justified their names being used in the title. They must have good agents.