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.
But what isn’t all that easy is creating a suitable monster. You know the type? The one who sulks in the shadows waiting to pounce when you’re least expecting it? By regularly taping into our cultural fears of technology, that’s something that THE RING series has done fairly well. We could argue all day about whether or not we like the films; still, it’s hard to mistake the impact they’ve had on audiences worldwide.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
You know the drill: if you’ve seen the video, then Sadako – the Japanese girl with the never-ending bangs – shows up to spell your doom. In the horror department, that’s as routine as vampires biting your neck or zombies dining on your brains. What screenwriters Yoshinobu Fujioka and Tsutomu Hanabusa have done in this installment have amped it up even more, allowing the causal video to go viral. Kids everywhere are searching for it – after all, how could they avoid the latest viral craze? – but it’s up to their schoolteacher, Akane Ayukawa (played by silent but sufficiently plucky Satomi Ishihara), to save the day.
The only problem for Akane is that Sadako is hungry for a new upgrade that takes the shape of the teacher’s body! If the two ever come together, then the creepiest killer that side of Tokyo could walk the streets again, spelling the end of life as we know it. So wouldn’t you know it? This installment finds Sadako definitely hot for teacher.
There really isn’t any more to say about SADAKO 3D except that it’s another suitable entry into the growing RING property. It serves up enough scares to keep one interested for its 97 minutes, but I’ll admit I thought it dragged a bit in the opening. It utilizes the first 15 minutes to essentially ‘set-up’ the premise regarding the video and the consequences of viewing it, but don’t we all know what’s in store for those viewers by now? Of course, that’s a minor quibble compared to the rest of the film, and methinks fans who turned in for previous episodes or even the Americanized remake (less its awful sequel) know just what to expect.
Akane’s background leaves a bit to be desired, but, in a feature that postulates evil can exist in cyberspace, I suppose that should be taken for granted. I won’t spoil it, but I will say it involves an even greater suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience. As is the formula, these two forces – one good, one evil – are on a crash course to meet. And meet they do in an abandoned warehouse that’s decorated in contemporary art deco style. Sadako holds her own, of course, but you’d think a vicious spirit with the ability to surf the Internet could figure out how to squeeze through a hole in the wall a bit more quickly. Akane makes for suitable prey, always appearing delicate, frail, and fragile … until Sadako gets her dander up.
Talk about a bad hair day? This is her worst.
SADAKO 3D is produced by Kadokawa Pictures, Kansai Telecasting, Shizuoka Telecasting, Tohokushinsha Film Corporation, and Tokai Television Broadcast Company. DVD distribution (stateside) is being handled through Well Go USA. For those needing it spelled out perfectly, this is a Japanese spoken language film with English subtitles (no English dubbing track available). As for the technical specifications, the film looks and sounds superb, and it boasts some suitably eerie cinematography and visual trickery. As is often the case with these foreign releases, there are no special features – would it have hurt too much to give Sadako a proper theatrical retrospective?
RECOMMENDED. Whatever your impressions are on the impressive RING franchise, it’s easy to admit that Sadako is one of the creepiest creatures ever committed to film. Theorists, philosophers, and film fans can argue for ages about what she means (symbolically), and there’s nothing wrong if – in the end – they all agree on one central premise: she stands for terror. She’s a gnarly critter who’s hell bent on revenge in SADAKO 3D of a sort. And even though the packaging boasts this is “the terrifying conclusion” I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t a few scares yet left in her life from her side of the great beyond.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Well Go USA provided me with an advance DVD copy of SADAKO by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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 … more