Epic battles are a staple fascination in culture, not only in real life but in fiction as well, for years fervent horror fans called for the ultimate battle between Jason Vorhees and Freddy Krueger to finally decide who will be the king of slashers. We received in my opinion a well displayed slasher with a nice mix of campy that did both genres justice, to not upset the fans of either series there was no clear winner with an ending that could be interpreted many different ways (I for one would have liked the ending with Pinhead).
The Japanese decided that the same treatment should occur with two of their behemoths in horror: Sadako from the Ringu series and Kayako from the Ju-On series and it is as interesting and entertaining as it sounds. For those that are not familiar with Japanese horror, American horror has borrowed heavily from their library to bring one of the most famous series in modern day horror classics: The Ring. Ringu is the series that was adapted into The Ring and more recently Rings, the main antagonist Samara is a Americanized version of their evil entity Sadako. I won’t go into intricate detail behind the differences but they resemble close enough that differences do not alter the story, the same can be said about Ju-On which was adapted into The Grudge starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, the main antagonist in Ju-On being Kayako.
Sadako v Kayako starts on two separate storylines that intersect at pivotal points: two college students who come across the cursed video tape and seek the help from their college professor who specializes in urban legends; a high school girl who moves in next door to the cursed house that is haunted by the famed Kayako and her twisted son.
Both stories do an exceptional job building their own arc and delving into the lore behind their ghouls, there are amazing horrific scenes to create the tragedy bestowed upon the victims and many gorey segments that remind fans why Japanese horror sometimes can be superior to American.
These poor sufferers crisscross when a powerful medium who I suppose is the Japanese Constantine attempts to save them with the idea that if they are cursed by both entities will force the spirits into a confrontation that will negate the curses, ending the line of horror and deaths they are destined for.
I know that it plot and concept alone sounds cheesy and utterly campy which could have been the direction the writers and directors decided to take, not dissimilar to Freddy vs. Jason which encourage the campy factor but this film takes a different approach. Sadako v Kayako takes itself seriously, propping up the horror aspect which to me made it that much more entertaining. When viewing I got a feel that I was enjoying a truly dark horror film with terrifying death scenes and blood, not once does it play on itself and go into self satire and I appreciate that, possibly could be why I enjoyed it more than expected.
If you are anticipating an epic battle with these two throwing blows then you will be semi disappointed. There is a final conflict between the two beings but they don’t get up and throw each other through windows, no house on fire and no one liners that could be turned into memes. The showdown doesn’t leave you wanting and actually creates an interesting turn at the end, does evil ultimately destroy evil or will their curses combine to unleash a more horrid legion upon the world?
I have to admit that as a self professed horror connoisseur I am embarrassed that I was not aware this movie even existed but I am glad that I discovered it, once the film was over I immediately went on Amazon to buy the DVD to add to my reserves of horror film favorites. I hope that American horror studios take note of how to do a versus movie, just because campy sells does not always mean it will be successful. I wish maybe this was released in the theaters instead of that poorly planned Rings, maybe once New Line gets the rights back to Jason next year they will see this as a blueprint to a Jason vs. Michael…..we could only hope.