Sorry, guys. We just want to keep your expectations in check.
One of the biggest disappointments in the history of horror cinema was 1989’s Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan, which spectacularly failed to live up to the promise of its title (as well as its totally awesome teaser trailer). Fans heading to the theater on the night of July 28th expected to see Jason Voorhees slashing up New York City for 90-minutes, but instead they were treated to a sequel that mostly took place on a boat. Jason finally showed up in Manhattan in the final act, ensuring that the film’s title wasn’t exactly a lie but was nevertheless a huge deception.
Nearly 30 years later, we’ve unfortunately been deceived yet again.
Brand new mash-up film Sadako vs. Kayako is exclusively hitting the streaming service Shudder this week (Thursday, January 26th), and it brings together the mega-popular franchises The Ring and The Grudge. It always seemed inevitable that series villains Sadako and Kayako would eventually either join forces or do battle – they are, after all, Japan’s answers to Freddy and Jason – and there’s no denying that the fight sounds like a really fun premise for a movie. Who wouldn’t want to see two horror icons beat the crap out of each other and battle to the death?!
So how awesome is that battle? Well, there really isn’t one.
As Joe Lipsett noted in his review out of the Toronto International Film Festival, the majority of Sadako vs. Kayako is devoted to individual stories about the two villains. Feeling like a reboot of The Ring crudely smashed together with a reboot of The Grudge, the film hardly brings the two franchises together in any sort of creative fashion, and it’s all very clunky; worse yet, it’s incredibly boring. Eventually, with mere minutes left in the running time (and that’s not an exaggeration), Sadako and Kayako finally appear on screen at the same time. Without giving too much away for anyone who plans on checking it out, the human characters decide that the only way to kill both entities is to make them, well, kill each other.
Let. Them. Fight.
In the final moments of the film, Sadako and Kayako do indeed come together as promised, but it’s hard to even consider their “fight” a genuine fight. Granted, the bonkers final moments do at least tease how much fun the movie could’ve been had fun been the name of the game all along, but at that point in time, it’s both too little and too late. Joe summed it up best in his aforementioned review: “Sadako and Kayako tousle for a few minutes of relatively fun action before the film ends on an abrupt, misguided cliffhanger.”
In Freddy vs. Jason, it may have taken a while for the fight to begin, but once it got underway, it was impossible to not be satisfied with it. As promised, we indeed saw Freddy and Jason kick, slash, and mutilate the ever-loving crap out of each other, but Sadako vs. Kayako is entirely a different story. It’s not merely that it takes too long to get to the good stuff, it’s that the good stuff never comes at all.
Don’t go into Sadako vs. Kayako looking for a fight.