The horror genre has received great contributions from Japanese filmmakers over the years, with two of the most enduring franchises being The Ring and Ju-On. The main supernatural entities from the films have become iconic in modern pop culture, which is why when the two got featured simultaneously in the recently released Sadako vs. Kayako, the title immediately caught the attention of horror fans.
Some reviewers went as far as to dub the film a ‘dream come true’ for horror enthusiasts, but just like many similar titles, it has its downsides. While the movie’s positive points are tackled in reviews like the aforementioned, today let’s talk about why this mix of two cult classics polarized opinion.
For a start, the title inevitably draws in thoughts from similar crossover horror films from Hollywood movie houses such as Freddy vs. Jason and Alien vs. Predator (AVP). Both received so-so ratings from audiences and critics alike, especially the latter.
To be fair though, both films became iconic in their own way, the latter of which even spawned mashup games as well like the similarly titled adventure and first-person shooter console game AVP or the Alien-themed video slots title tied to the classic bingo and slots combination Slingo. For the most part, the love of fans for the individual characters from the movies has not faded just yet.
That said, you still can’t help but worry if the result this time will be the same which, for fans of horror, isn’t a good start for films of such calibre as The Ring and Ju-On. That distinction pertains to the original Japanese releases by the way, not the Hollywood remakes which were decent at best.
Another aspect is the heavy reliance to jump scares. They are effective and all, but for true horror, it’s the genuinely creepy segments that count: not the instantaneous boo moments on the screen, but the cringe-worthy, ‘can’t stare at the screen’, nightmare inducing images. It’s just like when Sadako first came out of a TV and crawled in a contorted fashion towards the audience, or when Kayako slowly appears along with the familiar croaky throat sound.
Warning: the next two paragraphs contain spoilers so skip these parts if you’re still planning to watch the film.
Perhaps the biggest letdown was the ending, which just resulted in a lame and lousy CGI mess. It may have left some with feelings of dissatisfaction whilst others let it pass, but the conclusion is truly lacking in the fright category and the film just ends in a tie, with the two malevolent entities merged together as a single, more powerful evil being. It kind of defeats the purpose of being a ‘versus’ movie.
We get that both of them are immortal and it’s hard to pick a clear winner, but they could’ve at least let one get banished temporarily by the other to take all the souls for itself at that moment, while the other re-emerges somewhere, sometime later with a much more vengeful presence. Loyal fans of the banished character might get enraged, but that’s better than disappointing the followers of both sides.
In all, Sadako vs. Kayako is indeed a movie that you’ll either love or hate. As of this writing, it seems as if it has been received the same way, given that current ratings are within the median range. Frankly for hardcore horror fans, you would expect more shocks and lasting scares. Maybe the VR version of the mashup is more effective.