Playing at Fantasia Film Festival 2019, Sadako is Hideo Nakata’s return to the Ringu world. In the first Ringu Nakata had it dripping it menace and fear, unfortunately with Sadako most of that is gone and replaced with a very standard and seen-it-before storyline.
After an excellent prologue, the story begins when a young girl is brought into the psychiatric wing of a Toyko hospital after surviving an apartment fire that her mother started. Psychologist Mayu Akikawa (Ikeda) then gets close to the girl but it quickly becomes apparent that all is not ok and the shadow of Sadako looms large.
With a lot of supernatural films the big bad of the film doesn’t really turn up until the 3rd act or the instances of the evil are fleeting building up to the big moment but Sadako shows Sadako before the film is three minutes old, sure we know why we are here and if seeing Sadako is a surprise you are probably in the wrong film, never the less, Sadako’s impact is muted since she is so present and that takes away any terror that her presence would normally provide.
Sadako has all the elements that the audience expects from a Ringu film but these elements aren’t a shock, (barring a great TV sequence) we have all seen this before and the film is on a repeat cycle.
Someone is by themselves or threatened, then Sadako turns up – rinse, repeat until there is just no fear associated with her arrival. The film in between these moments drags as well and even the B plot is about Akikawa’s brother, an awful youtube content maker (is there any other kind?), who visits the burned out apartment and films it for his show is just a join the dots exercise.
All the acting is fine and Nakata knows his subject and directs this film well but the films greatest issue is that for a horror film – it is not scary nor horrific. A disappointing film.
Played at Fantasia Film Festival 2019
Ryan Morrissey-Smith | Twitter: @TigersMS78
Images: (c) 2019 “Sadako” Film Partners