The Ring Vs The Grudge isn’t quite the supernatural slobberknocker the title suggests.
You can understand the intrigue of pitting ferocious slasher icons against one another, hence the reason Freddy Vs. Jason exists. It helps it’s also stupid fun. Remove fun from that last sentence and you have the unequivocal summary of Sadako v Kayako. Ok, maybe that is too harsh an assessment, but it is remarkably silly. In other words, purveyors of dumb movies get ready to feast.
After high school students Yuri and Natsumi buy a VHS player to burn their parents wedding videos to DVD as a present, they unknowingly come across the cursed video tape which summons the spirit of Sadako. Yuri gets distracted and doesn’t watch the tape, but Natsumi does leaving her with 48 hours (Remember when it was 7 days?) before Sadako will come for her. After realising the discovery they seek the help of professor Morishige, an author on urban legends who has been desperate to watch the tape himself. The professor calls in some favours that should help Natsumi rid herself of Sadako’s spirit, but it puts them on a collision course with the spirit of Kayako. How you might ask? Well enter mysterious psychics Keizo and Tamao who inform Yuri the only way to free themselves from the curse of Sadako is to pit her against the spirit of Kayako.
One thing you can’t claim this supernatural showdown of being is boring. In it’s relatively breezy run time it manages to cram two separate films into one, though it most certainly leans on the use of Sadako more. The result is two condensed versions of these supernatural sagas lamely tied together to justify the films title, and it just about gets away with it; not because it’s good but because the spirits actually engage in some supernatural fisticuffs. Despite the title, Sadako doesn’t actually square off against Kayako until the final act which is quite disappointing. Instead we must sit through the aforementioned condensed stories of both film series. This itself wouldn’t have been too bad had they been new takes on the material, but exorcism attempt aside they’re pretty much everything you’ve seen before.
For some reason they oddly rewrite the established rules of the curses. Sadako’s curse has changed from seven days to two, and you can’t rid yourself of it by having somebody else watch the tape. It mixes things up, but to not address why there are changes after a series of films is just lazy. The films biggest failing though is it’s criminally empty of fear, a backhanded slap to the face of its predecessors. Despite the disturbing noises of Kayako and Toshio still present, there isn’t an ounce of dread to be found anywhere in the film. The creeping fear of the originals hiding somewhere in the shadows appalled by the nonsense taking place.
Overall this is a sorry attempt at fusing two successful horror franchises together. Daft as a brush and littered with unintentional humour, eye rolling acting, and dopey scenes, Sadako Vs Kayako is little more than an unwitting parody of its source material.
Sadako Vs Kayako is available to stream on Shudder now.