Koji Suzuki’s novel “Ring” has birthed the Japanese horror hit “Ringu”. This film, in turn, has inspired numerous sequels (Rasen, Ring 0, Ringu 2) , an American remake (The Ring with Naomi Watts) and even a Korean remake called “The Ring Virus”. I guess there is just something appealing and genuinely creepy about a ghost that comes from a TV screen. Now, with our advancements in technology and how the internet has changed our lives, imagine that concept taken even further. “Sadako 3D” is director Tsutomu Hanabusa’s vision of such a concept.
There has been a video clip that has been said to be ‘cursed’, as whoever watches it would die. This video has been going around the internet, watched with the use of smart phones, computers and the like, and it is said that whoever views this footage would be driven to suicide. When a school teacher named Akane (Satomi Ishihara) hears of the rumor, she tries to dismiss it. But when a few of her students decide to test the authenticity of the urban legend, Akane and her boyfriend, Takanori (Koji Seto) become fatefully drawn into its secret. Now, they must do whatever they can to try to uncover the truth behind the video and the man called Kashiwada (Yusuke Yamamoto), the man who had created it to what purpose?
I know such an idea feels somewhat borrowed from movies such as “One Missed Call” and “Suicide Song” with the use of the Sadako character to wrap everything up to create a story. The screenplay incorporates certain commentaries about society’s addiction to technology, curiosity for the unknown and just how people do react to something or someone different. Sadako is a tragic figure in horror fiction, and there is an almost unlimited potential as to how she could be told in stories. I am not sure, “Sadako” introduces several elements and plot set ups that appear interesting, and yet, for some reason, the film becomes rather ineffective as a supernatural horror thriller because of its clumsy direction and rather uninspired writing.
There were several things that could’ve made the film work as a horror film. I liked the idea of Sadako’s search for something and how an evil man tried to revive her with several sacrifices. I also thought that there was something clever with the origins of Akane. I just wasn’t sure if the film was trying to be a sequel, a spin off or something just totally different. The good elements come poorly developed and the script did not have the ability to generate suspense and a feeling of dread. There were many developments in the script that did not make sense and felt rather cheap. To make matters worst, the direction struggled to define the emotions, and the characters become rather shallow. I would say the characters were cliché, but really with this weak dimensions, I could not even say that they were stereotypes. They were just people playing ‘actors’ and this is the worst thing that could happen in filmmaking.
Okay, so does the film at least have a decent eerie atmosphere and some decent scares? Well, “Sadako” suffers from excesses in trying a little too hard to be scary or creepy. I mean, a lot of the supposed creepy scenes were silly and outrageous. The chase sequence with Ayane being pursued by the spider-like Yureis ran a little too long. I became rather bored with the redundancy of the scenes. The spider-like Yurei’s (as in plural) looked like they had been borrowed from horror anime such as “Wicked City”, but since this was a film made with 3D in mind, I guess I could see why and how the filmmakers would stoop to such excesses.
Now, even with all the tepid acting that plagued the film, I thought Satomi Ishihara was very cute and capable as the lead character. She did have the potential to reach deep down to make her character much more compelling, but sadly, the screenplay just did not have anything behind it. “Sadako 3D” was a film made to capitalize on the popularity of the film “Ringu”. While it should have been able to re-vitalize the horror franchise, it just buries it further down the well. Well, maybe not, since this spawned another sequel.
I’ve always said that horror films tend to be easiest to make because – on the face of it – they require the smallest investment in characters. The thrill is always in the chase – Character A is being harassed by Creature A; and the audience gets its chills by experiencing that pursuit vicariously. Never is the viewer in any true jeopardy; he or she just gets an adrenaline rush from witnessing someone else’s freakish flight. … more