Remember Ringu, the Japanese sensation that helped kickstart Hollywood’s then-love affair with remaking J-Horror films? We all know that after it’s international success, Ringu rekindled horror filmmaking in Japan, which in turn fed into that fascination that Hollywood had about remaking foreign horror films. Of course, this also led to Ringu‘s director, Hideo Nakata, to direct the horrible The Ring Two here in North America, which proved that no matter who’s involved, Hollywood can (and still) screw up a good thing. Over a decade later, the Japanese franchise is back again to try and get more mileage out of something that’s unfortunately quite dead with Sadako 3D.
Kiyoshi Kashiwada (Yusuke Yamamoto) is an airbrush artist who posts some of his art on his blog. Taking things to a new level of butthurt, when he gets a bunch of negative comments, Kiyoshi becomes extremely upset and commits suicide. Before doing so, Kiyoshi makes sure to record his death on video..for five people. Before he dies, he mentions that this is all a means to resurrect “S”. Don’t strain yourself, it’s Sadako. Subsequently, anyone who views the streamed video ends up committing suicide. Enter Akane Ayukawa, a schoolteacher with a troubled past. When her students start dying off because they searched for and found the video (despite it being removed from servers), she intervenes and comes face to face with Sadako. Now Akane is seeing Sadako everywhere. When Sadako threatens Akane’s boyfriend Takanori, Akane decides to confront her past and stop Sadako.
We’ve all heard the adage, “Let sleeping dogs lie”. Unfortunately, some filmmakers have sought to resurrect that which should be dead (Alien Resurrection, for example), with disastrous results. The Ringu series ended a long time ago, yet we now have Sadako 3D. Gone is the mystery and terror that the original films possessed. In it’s place, we have jump scares and stings. Lots of them. Also gone is the mystery surrounding Sadako and her origins. Instead, the film states that people were afraid afraid of a girl so they threw her in a well. No phone calls, no seven days, no Sadako coming out of the screen to scare people to death. Just people offing themselves as soon as they see the video. During Akane’s investigation, we do uncover Sadako’s reasoning behind the killing: she’s looking for a body to possess for…some reason. Guess who fits the bill, by the way? Also, want an explanation as to what Sadako will do once she inhabits the body? Too bad. Other subplots (such as the two cops who are investigating the deaths or Kashiwada’s obsession with Sadako) never pan out, either. Really, they all come across as nothing other than lame attempts to pad out an even more lame main plot.
Then there’s the 3D. Really, take a look at the picture on the Blu Ray case. Get used to seeing things like that lunging/flying at the screen, since that’s all that you get. To say that we don’t get that immersive 3D is an understatement. If it’s not Sadako herself lunging at the screen (which is always preceded by a cut, thereby ruining the effect), it’s moths. Yes, moths. It seems that one of Sadako’s new powers is the ability to turn into dozens of lame CG monsters that when hit hard enough explode into moths that fly at the screen for no reason other than to…fly at the screen? Oh yeah, and there’s no reason given for the moths, it just happens.
Is there anything at all to salvage from this film? Well, the acting is okay, with Satomi Ishihara being an acceptable protagonist. The cinematography is also very good, as is the use of sound, even if it’s used mainly for the jump scares and stings. And yes, the embracing of the new technology is a no-brainer (given that VHS has gone the way of my sanity), but still something that had potential in this film. Other than that, it’s pretty bleak for whatever entertainment you can get out of this film. Like many films before it, it’s a shame that a franchise like Ringu was resurrected in such a lame and unfulfilling way. Fans of the original will be infuriated, while everyone else will wonder what all the fuss was about.
Regardless of the option to choose either the 3D or 2D version of the film, the 1.85:1 1080p widescreen transfers look good. The color is nicely saturated and the image is never overly dark or bright. There are a few hints of artifacting in some of the darker scenes, but it’s minor.
Given the film uses a lot of stings and jump scares, both the Japanese DTS-HD 5.1 MA makes the most out of them. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects, with plenty of action in the surrounds during attack sequences, and of course when Sadako appears. The bass also kicks in during the Sadako moments, adding a nice exclamation point to the presentation.
The only extra on the disc (other than the option to watch either the 3D or 2D version of the film) is the film’s trailer. That’s it.