Sadako 3D (Blu-ray / DVD)
Directed by Tsutomu Hanabusa
Distributed by Well Go USA
In 1998 director Hideo Nakata adapted Kôji Suzuki's novel Ring, thereby unleashing the evil known as Sadako Yamamura on the world as we know it. Since then we've had sequels, a prequel, a remake, a sequel to the remake, a TV show in Japan, various Korean versions... I can go on and on. The last time we saw Sadako up on the cinema screen was in the American sequel The Ring Two when she was known as Samara. Despite some lesser efforts here and there, the movie was pretty damned abysmal and considered by many to be the worst in the Ring film franchise. Not even Hideo Nakata's directing chops could save that one. Years later we're all still haunted by that CG deer. The series had hit a crippling low, and it quietly disappeared.
With Sadako 3D director Tsutomu Hanabusa has managed to do the unthinkable: He found a way to make a movie that is actually worse than The Ring Two.
The flick follows a new curse video (the original obviously died with VHS) created by a scorned airbrush artist named Kiyoshi Kashiwada (Yamamoto) who's angry about getting negative reviews about his artwork on his blog. Yes, you read that correctly. So what does he do? He comes up with a half-baked video of himself "dying" via apparent suicide and streams it on the internet, making him the last victim of the grainy creepy video we all know and love, and is never seen in this movie. Before he croaks, he utters something along the lines of doing this all as a means to resurrect "S," who is obviously Sadako. The video is removed from the server after his death but appears almost out of nowhere once someone starts searching for it online. The legend behind the video is that if you watch it, you will commit suicide just like its star.
Enter a schoolteacher by the name of Akane Ayukawa (Ishihara). Her students start dying one by one because they searched for and eventually found the new "curse video" depicting Kashiwada in the throes of his demise. Death is pretty instantaneous upon watching so there's no need to worry about that whole nagging seven days thing from every other version of the story. Why bother, right? We live in the time of super quick internet connections. Death should be as fast as the stream delivering said video. If not, you should call your local internet provider and complain.
In any event these deaths are not suicides at all, but the work of Sadako, who immediately comes to claim her victims as a means to find one whose body she can possess for some unknown reason that's never explained. We bet you can't guess who that turns out being.
In a nutshell that's the story, and believe me, I've gone to great lengths to make it sound like it all makes sense, but it really doesn't. There are plenty of subplots which go nowhere surrounding Kashiwada, inept cops (one of which turns up later in the film wearing a Sadako fright wig for no apparent reason), weird butterflies, and of course Akane's students. I've chosen to ignore them so you can watch this spectacle for yourself should you choose to.
For fans of the series like myself, Sadako 3D can be downright infuriating to watch. The 3D (which is included on the Blu-ray version only) is some of the worst gimmicky shit I've seen in ages and does nothing but distract you. See that image on the box of Sadako reaching out to grab ya? Get used to it... you're gonna see it countless times within the film. It's as if the makers of this shitpile took the most iconic scene from Ring and built a whole movie around it so that you could witness it again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. The most ludicrous part? Nearly every one of those scenes ends with glass shattering in slow motion and lingering in the air until it drops slowly to the ground. I'm not exaggerating either. You could make a drinking game out of this.
The only ties to the original series to be found here are:
The rest of the well-laid history of this character has been flushed away, making her just a caricature of her former scary self. But the powers-that-be did try to up the ante a bit in this flick by giving Sadako new powers. Not only does this supernatural scamp appear as a murderous bone-cracking spectre, in Sadako 3D she assumes the form of a giant killer hairball and - believe it or not - an alien zombie-frog creature who runs around on all fours at speeds in excess of mach 3. Think the closet monster from Poltergeist thrown into a blender with a frog (complete with lashing tongue - or in this case lashing hair), a zombie, and a Xenomorph who habitually masturbates to John Carpenter's The Thing.
BUT WAIT... THERE'S MORE!
Not only do we get alien-zombie-frog-Sadako as the film's chilling(!) villain reveal, WE GET DOZENS OF THEM! Apparently Kashiwada was busy in those seven days leading up to his death because now there are creatures aplenty who inexplicably explode into black moths upon being struck with anything hard (including fists), thus negating any menace that they could possibly muster while you're not laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of the onscreen action.
There are no special features at all on either the Blu-ray or DVD except for the trailer so at the very least once this is done, it's done.
This is a blight on the franchise and only manages to entertain through its absolute incompetence. If you're looking for a great Far East fear fix, just watch the original Ring again. Hell, watch Ring 2 and Ring 0: Birthday. I'd even go with both American flicks over this. Sadako 3D is like having beer goggles that possess the miraculous power to make even the silliest of CG deers look absolutely terrifying.
1 out of 5
1/2 out of 5