Koji Shiraishi’s “Sadako Vs Kayako” gives an answer to the question, “Is J-horror still alive?”

What happens when the two most iconic monsters of J-horror appear both in the same film, that also involves two schoolgirls, a professor at the university with an inclination towards the occult, and a duo of exorcists that look like they jumped straight from the pages of a manga? The result is as preposterous as any answer on that question could be, as Koji Shiraishi builds a film that steadily leads to the confrontation between the two lovely ladies.

Let’s start the review by answering the titular question. No, it is most definitely not and “Sadako vs Kayako” does very little to turn this fact around. On that fashion, Shiraishi directs an utterly nonsensical film, that features most of the cliches of the genre (disbelief in the curse, naive young women wishing to try something different, some plot twists, etc), all of which are dressed with expensive special effects and the trademark horrific sound of the genre, in order to provide an outcome whose obvious purpose is to scare the watcher.

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The only thing that makes the film stand apart from the plethora of entries in the category is probably its most entertaining aspect, the element of parody. Chiefly represented by Morishige, the professor, who acts as a comic relief character, this element provides a number of hilarious moments that occur when the director does not take his material so seriously. The concept of the exorcist duo, Keizo and Tamao, also moves towards the same direction, parodying anime of the genre.

The ending, on the other hand, is very impressive technically, with the fight of the two monsters probably being the best sequence of the film. However, as the movie evidently aims to the production of a sequel, even that was ruined at the end.

In terms of acting , there is not much to say, apart from the fact that the Masahiro Komoto as Shinichi Morishige gives a hilarious performance and the couple of exorcists (Masanobu Ando as Keizo and Mai Kikuchi as Tamao) play the roles of  anime characters to perfection.

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Technically the film highlights its big budget, with the special effects and the sound being of very high quality, particularly during the ending sequence.

“Sadako vs Kayako” is obviously an effort to make some more money from the long since dead J-horror genre, a purpose that will probably be fulfilled, with the promotion the film had. My proposal however, to the producers of the film is to give it to the splatter master, Yoshihiro Nishimura if they ever want to shoot something worthwhile.

The film screened during the Five Flavours Film Festival in Warsaw.

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