Monday, October 15, 2012

Sadako | 貞子3D

The Pitch

14 years ago, one Japanese horror movie came and revitalized the Asian horror genre. It also inspired numerous copycats that tried to latch on to it's success in one way or the other. That movie would be The Ring (リング Ringu) and Sadako became an iconic horror character that is equivalent to the likes of Freddy Kruger, Chucky and Jason in Asia.

After the American made two movies out of it, the demands for another movie out of the Ring franchise seemed to die down and Sadako was left undisturbed for about 7 years. Now with the advent of 3D movies, companies are digging up their previously popular franchise for the profitable 3D treatment and Sadako is one of the few safe bets that the movie company could bank on cashing in.

To be fair, apparently this movie is based on Ringu's author Koji Suzuki's new novel S (2012). If anyone should continue this successful horror franchise, he probably the best person to do so. It brought some hope that it might be a faithful continuation of the series or manages to recapture some of the magic that made the first Ring so unforgettable. But then again, Thomas Harris, the author of Silence of the Lambs also wrote the novel in which the disappoint Hannibal Rising was based on. It would be interesting to check if the lightning could strike twice at the same spot.

Then there's also the choice of director. Tsutomu Hanabusa's resume had been primarily made up of bright wacky comedies. I love his Handsome Suit (ハンサム★スーツ  2008) but crossing over genres has always been tricky. Let's hope he doesn't make a comedy out of this horror movie.

Last but not least, I was intrigued by how Sadako 3D had been promoted in Japan.

Sadako making a baseball pitch
the Video of her making the pitch here

Sadako on a truck

Sadakos invading streets of Tokyo
Might be a little bit too gimmicky but the inventiveness of the movie promotion gave me some hope for this movie. 

The Plot

Rumor has it that a new cursed video has emerged online and it's drawing people to search for it. Usually they will find that it's been deleted with the Error 404 Not Found message. But when Risa (Hikari Takara) a female student dies mysteriously after searching high and low for the cursed video, her high school teacher Akane (Satomi Ishihara) started to suspect that the rumor might be true after all.

Meanwhile, after a string of strange unexplained deaths that occurred at the same time, Detective Koiso (Ryosei Tayama) and his partner begun to investigate the validity of the cursed video. Their investigation led them to a popular online artist Kashiwada (Yusuke Yamamoto) who been flamed by other artists. Apparently that caused Kashiwada to commit suicide in a live broadcast and that video is no where to be found.

Back in school, Risa's best friend started to look for the same curse video and after leaving the Error 404 page opened for a prolong time, the internet site starts to play the video of Kashiwada committing suicide by reviving S, a mysterious long haired woman. When the video ends, Sadako (Ai Hashimoto) crawled out of the computer screen to attack the student. Akane arrived just in time to save her with a supersonic scream that vaporized the computer screen. Sadako disappeared with an eerie "It's you" message for Akane.

From then on, Akane is consistently haunted by Sadako. Even her boyfriend Takanori Ando (Koji Seto) isn't spared. After Takanori has been snatched by a giant Sadako into a large LCD display truck, Akane joined force with Detective Koiso to rescue her boyfriend. Will Akane's supersonic scream be enough to fight Sadako's evil power off and why is Sadako seeking Akane out?

Movie Review Sadako 3D | 貞子3D Coming Soon

There were two official follow up movies (one sequel and one prequel) to "The Ring" and while they weren't exceptionally good, they didn't suck as badly as Sadako 3D. What went wrong for Sadako 3D? Here are some of the major issues that I had with this latest installment of the Sadako mythos.

First and foremost, the biggest problem was that it was filmed for 3D. To serve the gimmicky 3D effects, Sadako had to "reach out" to "touch" the audience. "Spook" the audience with her long pale arms and her badly damaged nails. What's wrong with it? It had the same problem with lightsabers in the Star Wars prequel (as RedLetterMedia had pointed out in their informative dissect on what's wrong with the Star Wars prequel). The lightsabers and Sadako's haunting were both used once too often until the effectiveness that were present in the originals were lost in the latest installments. 

Then there was the cursed video. The original cursed video has that eerie aura to it and till today, I still find that video clip spooky. Sadako 3D's cursed video features a girly looking Japanese man who committed suicide because he couldn't handle some "nasty online comments" about his artworks. It's a major facepalm moment. It's just sad to see how the reason for horror had evolved to this stage.

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