Fantasia Fest 2019: Sadako fails to recapture franchise magic


Fans of the Ringu horror franchise have been waiting for Sadako for a while now. Unfortunately, the latest movie is a toothless rehash of better films.

In 1998, Hideo Nakata terrified Japanese audiences with Ringu, the horrific story of Sadako’s origins the birth of a cursed videotape. Ringu became so popular; it spawned a well-received American remake which, in turn, kick-started a string of Japanese-to-American horror movie remakes.

Fast-forward to 2019, past several failed sequels, reboots, and American remakes, Nakata returns to his rightful place as director of this iconic horror franchise.

Sadako had its worldwide premiere at this year’s Fantasia Fest in Montreal. This new entry into the Ringu franchise followed the story of a mysterious young girl with origins similar to those of Sadako’s.

Unfortunately, despite being a highly-anticipated film due to the popularity of its content, Sadako fails to reclaim any of the terror that made the original Ringu so frightening.

More from 1428 Elm

Many of the scares in Sadako are almost frame-for-frame mimicry of ones we’ve seen already. The lack of unique imagery and horror is particularly disappointing because there aren’t that many scary moments in this film to begin with.

The story follows a hospital counselor named Mayu (Elaiza Ikeda), she forms a connection with the amnesiac little girl admitted to the hospital. The audience learns her tragic backstory during the film’s opening scene. Her mother, believing her to be the reincarnation of Sadako due to her psychic gifts, kept her locked up in a closet.

Eventually, unable to deal with her guilt and fear, her mother burns down the apartment complex.

Mayu’s brother, a failed YouTuber named Kazuma (Hiroya Shimizu) takes it upon himself to visit the burned remains of the apartment complex in the hopes of filming a paranormal encounter to boost his views.

You can imagine where things go from there.

Sadako is a neutered version of a better movie, one we’ve already seen. It pays homage to its predecessor but neglects to offer anything new. It’s as feeble as it is stale and worst of all, it’s just not very entertaining.

The one thing I did appreciate about Sadako over some of the other films in the franchise is its handling of the title character. In previous incarnations of The Ring, explaining why Sadako has become the monstrous entity we know her as today has siphoned away some of the raw fear surrounding her and her unkempt appearance.

Next. Fantasia Fest 2019: 6 most-anticipated horror movies. dark

Sadako doesn’t waste time attempting to make the audience sympathize with her character. When she appears, it is genuinely creepy and her few moments are some of the movie’s best. If only she were a more significant focus than her final hour climax.

Are you a Ringu fan? Would you see Sadako? Let us know in the comments.