I have written on this blog a few times about how the original “Ring” was a huge art in me properly discovering Asian Cinema. Whilst looking back on it, it really isn’t that great a movie (the books are a far more fulfilling and interesting treat), it will always have a small place in my heart. So when I saw that there was going to be a new film this year, my expectations were mixed. On the plus side, it was meant to be based on the new novel “S” from Koji Suzuki (which will probably be years before I see an English translation), and the world has changed from the days of “Ring”. Now the idea of a cursed videotape and a ghostly apparition climbing from the TV screen seems somewhat quaint. So the films promise to explore the way this could be adapted do the pervasive multimedia world and social networking was potentially ripe with promise. On the down side, it isn’t as if this idea has not been explored before (including in what I hope will be my next review, the Korean “Don’t Click”). Then of course there is the curse of it being in 3D. Whilst the idea of the iconic image of Sadako crawling out of a screen is appealing, one could not help but wonder if having 3D available was going to make the film makers overplay this card. But, hope springs eternal, so let us see if the film plumbed the deepest depths of my expectations, or actually became an unexpected gem.
The main player in “Sadako 3D” is school teacher Akane Ayukawa (Satomi Ishihara) whose students are becoming obsessed with finding a video clip on the internet of an Artist who commits suicide on camera. Thing is, it seems that those who watch the video are then inclined to commit suicide themselves. At the same time, this rash of suicides has been noticed by the Police, and the pair assigned use both old school footwork, and technology to find out just what is going on. Akane is intrigued, and finds out more from her Web Page Designer boyfriend, although it all comes home to roost when one of her students is driven to taking her own life. Turns out though that Akane has some secrets of her own, being some kind of telekinetic, which brings her to the notice of everyone’s long haired ghost who seems to be looking for a suitable host to enable her to properly escape into the real world. Akane’s boyfriend is then kidnapped, and she is forced to try and save him. Can she do this without falling prey to the curse of Sadako?
Oh dear. I mean I did expect bad. I wasn’t expecting it to be this utterly worthless though. And I do so hate just picking holes and giving a one side criticism of a film, but this time I am going to have a really hard job being in anyway balanced. So apologies for this rant, but here goes…
The best thing about the first film was the atmosphere. There was a growing sense of mystery and suspense, as we slowly learned what was going on, leading up to THAT scene. Here, the opposite effect is true. It’s all loud and obvious, desperate at every turn to show off the 3D effects (which even though I only saw in 2D were just terribly obvious, and if the filmmakers felt showing some rather dodgy CGI Glass breaking at least 5 times was a good idea, then it is just an example what is wrong with the whole film). It aims to make you jump out of your seat over and over, which just ends up being boring. Because its just a variation on the same scare over and over. Sad thing is that there are some pretty good ideas here – Sadako can use Televisions and Advertising Screens and Webcams and Smartphone’s and all sorts of things that pervade our modern life. But instead of this being slowly made aware to the viewers, we are told and shown all this within minutes of the film starting.
Then there is just the lack of narrative, and frankly sensible exposition. I think I understood what was going on (the subtitles were perfectly understandable), but how anyone in the movie ever found out, God only knows. Someone obviously thought they had a good CGI model of some spider-legged Sadako. And it was thought to be so good, they decided to use it not once, or twice, but hundreds of times. Now I think the suggestion is that these were ‘broken’ attempts by Sadako to inhabit a number of women who were murdered before the start of the film, But it is never really squared away. Moreover, despite quite an interesting conversation between the two Police Officers about the benefits of good old fashioned legwork versus just trying to Google everything, the film takes some shortcut where they just find out about stuff. Sure they find some words written on a wall, and there is some potentially creepy Landlady to question, but I never felt they actually earned anything.
This goes further though. I have no idea what the real motive of the Artist was who actually wanted to bring Sadako into the world. And to be perfectly honest, I am pretty unclear what Sadako wanted out of the deal either. Previously, she has been a somewhat revenge driven entity, albeit with scant regard for those who get in the way. Here? I am really not to sure.
The overall feeling I have is, that the film is made by people who don’t really understand the character that they decided to name their film after, only concerned with giving a certain three dimensional visual. It gets even worse in the film’s conclusion, when they suddenly decide to invoke an idea from a totally different film, “EXTE”: Hair Extensions”. And whilst it was both funny and icky in that movie, here it just makes me think WTF?!?
Are there any good things about the film? Well, although misplaced and misused, there are a couple of interesting visuals. And in Satomi Ishihara, when she isn’t being asked to wander around in some fugue state, is actually somewhat endearing. Its just a shame everyone around her is so terrible. Because, along with everything else, the acting is (Ishihara aside) risible.
Last time up I thought I may have come across my Film of the Year. This time I am pretty certain I have discovered my Worst Film of the Year. Avoid. Really, just walk on by.
But, if you have a hankering for something a little similar, yet equally derivative? Check out my next planned review.