Friday, August 23, 2013

Sadako 3D

The original Japanese version of The Ring (Ringu) was released back in 1998 to critical/audience acclaim and huge box office numbers overseas. A friend and I were able to get ahold of a VCD a few years later, just a handful of months before the American remake was due to hit theaters, and we both agreed that it was the most original, and surprisingly frightening, horror thriller to be released in some time. Unfortunately the many Japanese sequels/reboots/television shows were garbage, but the American version was exceptionally awesome. It too was followed by a completely inane sequel (The Ring Two) and soon after that my interest in Japanese horror began to wane. They all seemed to feature either ghostly children or undead women with really long hair tormenting someone in bizarre ways (The Grudge, The Eye, Spiral, etc.). It was tiresome.

Jump ahead to 2012. Someone in Japan thought it was a good idea to bring the Ringu series back from the dead, only this time in 3D. Sadako 3D serves as a modern day sequel instead of a complete reboot as most people I know predicted it would be. Does it break the craptastic cycle of its predecessors?
The story involves a cursed internet video that will cause anyone who is crafty enough to find it to immediately commit suicide. Young school teacher Akane (Satomi Ishihara) seems to be connected to it in some supernatural manner, and after some investigation discovers that the video is acting as a new method to allow the evil Sadako to continue spreading her curse of death upon civilization.

I can understand the need to update the mythos of the series to utilize the current methods of communication, i.e. smartphones, internet, etc. I can also understand the need to use the 3D aspect to make the scares seem to jump out at the audience. It worked in the 50s, why not now? I can understand the plot point that the video causes the viewer to commit suicide. It’s more than a little topical when you have an epidemic of bullied teens killing themselves as an escape from their pain.

What I don’t understand is everything else in this ridiculously dumb ass movie.
Seriously, nothing in this flick connects in any way. It almost feels like a series of vignettes that happen to feature the same main character of Akane. Random stuff goes down, people keep dying (mostly due to their own stupidity) and no one really seems to mind. The rules set up in the other movies have become an afterthought because anything goes no matter how off-the-wall it is (the butterfly wallpaper bit?!), and usually involving some sort of lame 3D effect. I don’t know how many times Sadako’s hand/hair lunged out at the screen from some computer monitor, but I think it might be in the upper 40s. I had a hard time keeping track of what was going on and why. Once the army of random Sadako trollspidergremlins showed up in a piss poor attempt to pad the runtime with an overlong rip-off of the raptor kitchen scene from Jurassic Park is when I stopped attempting to make sense of the garbage flying by on screen.

The cursed video, which this time is of a popular V-logger supposedly committing suicide (but is actually being killed by an invisible Sadako), seems to be all the rage amongst high schoolers. All the teenage characters know someone who has seen the video and died, but that doesn’t seem to stop them from intensely attempting to track down the clip online, some even in the middle of Algebra class, to check it out for themselves. Are writers Yoshinobu Fujioka & Tsutomu Hanabusa (who also directed) that out of touch? Do they think all teenagers are completely suicidal imbeciles? They turn every character into an utter moron, so much so that I was getting increasingly angry as the movie trudged onward.
Hanabusa knows absolutely zilch about how to build tension, make characters likable or even how to properly tell a story. This whole flick is a mess from start to finish with little to no entertainment value whatsoever. It’s painful to be completely honest. Painful because the original film was so creatively creepy and this completely unnecessary sequel just shits all over it. When the ending came around and made absolutely zero sense, even with all the exposition that had just come before it, I realized that I had wasted 90 minutes of my life. The fact that this is set up to be the starting point for a new franchise (Sadako 2 3D comes out later this year in Japan, and is actually in 4D since it requires you to download an app to your phone before going to the theater so your Galaxy S4 can fuck with you while you watch it) angers me beyond words.

Are Japanese audiences willing to continue patronizing something as soulless and creatively bankrupt as this crap? If so I’m going to have to christen The Ring/Sadako series as the Saw of Japan. This concept is no longer scary, it’s flat out stupid. Skip it.

1 out of 5

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