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'Sadako vs. Kayako' TIFF 2016 Review: J-horror grudge match

September 16, 2016Ben MK

Say what you will about movies like Alien vs. Predator, Freddy vs. Jason and King Kong vs. Godzilla, but there's something special about seeing two big screen icons going head-to-head, just as the evil spirits from the original Japanese versions of The Ring and The Grudge do in Sadako vs. Kayako. And while the film doesn't quite live up to the hype, the premise is simply too ridiculous to not be enjoyable.

The movie introduces viewers to a trio of new victims — err, characters. Yuri (Mizuki Yamamoto) and Natsumi (Aimi Satsukawa) are college students who come across the cursed video from Ringu while looking for a VHS player with which to transfer Natsumi's parents' wedding video to DVD. Meanwhile, Suzuka (Tina Tamashiro) is a high schooler whose family has just moved in next door to the cursed house from Ju-On: The Grudge. Cue scenes where Yuri, Natsumi and Suzuka become haunted by their respective poltergeists, which leads supernatural expert Kyozo (Masanobu Andô) to pit both entities against one another, as a means of saving the girls from certain death.

What follows is a brief — yet, totally insane — showdown between Sadako and Kayako. But that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of goofy fun to be had along the way, as the two black-haired wraiths terrify their hapless victims individually, before inevitably duking it out and joining forces. Suffice to say, fans of Ringu and Ju-On (or their American counterparts, for that matter) will have a blast with the way director Kôji Shiraishi handles both iconic characters, resulting in a movie that's not only a send-up of the J-horror genre, but also a love letter to its fans.

Sadako vs. Kayako is receiving its international premiere as part of TIFF 2016's Midnight Madness programme. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 38 Min.

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