Two of Japanese horror’s biggest names came together in the newly released film Sadako vs Kayako, and you can bet we weren’t about to miss it! 

Sadako and Kayako, the terrifying evil spirits from The Ring (Ringu) and The Grudge (Juon) series respectively, are practically idols in the world of Japanese horror and have terrified many fans of the genre over the years (and if you enjoy being scared out of your wits, I also seriously recommend the original Ring novel by Koji Suzuki, which is probably as terrifying as a reading experience can get).

Well, after considerable publicity and marketing efforts including an appearance at a baseball game to throw the opening pitch and even a collaboration with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department in an anti-drug campaign, the much talked-about film Sadako vs Kayako opened in theaters across Japan this past Saturday, and I couldn’t resist going to see the leading ladies of J-horror in action together!

Honestly, while I enjoy a good scare, I didn’t know what to expect of this bizarre horror mash-up. Could putting together utterly terrifying spirits from two completely different stories work? After all, this sounded like a scenario where the results could easily be unintentionally hilarious instead of horrifying.

As it turns out, I thought the movie did a pretty decent job of setting the premises of the Ring and Grudge stories in present day Japan. Sadako’s cursed video, which I’m sure caused many viewers of the previous Ring films to shake in terror, is treated as an urban legend that has become practically obsolete with the disappearance of VHS tapes. Things get complicated, however, when two female college students buy an old VHS player at a second-hand shop and find that the player still has a videotape inside it and … well, you get the picture.

▼ Would you dare watch a mysterious video which might hold horrors unknown?

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Around the same time, a high school girl moves into a new house and finds herself both disturbed by and attracted to the house across the street, which her friends at school warn her to stay away from. Yup, a cursed house, that sounds familiar too…

▼And would you dare enter a spooky empty house surrounded by dark rumors?

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The movie goes on to showcase the sinister powers of Sadako and Kayako in full force, complete with Sadako doing evil things with her long black hair and Kayako terrifying everyone with her croaking voice and creepy crawling movements. Their antics of course, result in the obligatory people-dropping-like-flies scenes that you expect in a horror movie, and you even get a look at what seems to be a Shinto-style exorcism (although I’m not sure how accurate that depiction is supposed to be).

Overall, while there were some moments intended to be frightening that felt a bit silly and over-the-top, I thought there were enough scary bits for the movie to be enjoyable as a horror flick. Sure, the content certainly isn’t profound, and there are plot holes and unexplained elements in the storyline, but that can be said about most horror movies. The bottom line is, I was engaged enough that I found myself wondering along with the characters how they might be able to battle the powerful curse they are faced with, and the build-up to the final showdown was certainly worthy of the title Sadako vs Kayako. That said, I did feel the ending probably could have been better thought out, as the movie seemed to finish quite abruptly. Still, it was good fun, and I’ve definitely seen far worse horror movies, so I can’t say I was disappointed.

▼ If you go see the movie and enjoy it, you can always buy some of the movie tie-in merchandise to take home with you, including T-shirts, glass clingers and items featuring a Sadako & Kayako collaboration with Hello Kitty as well as Sadako and Kayako face masks.

▼ Here’s the movie trailer to give you a taste of what happens when two iconic evil spirits come together.

▼ And there’s also a funny video of the movie’s theme song “The Cursed Shananana“, shown here in the Dance Version featuring Sadako and Kayako, as well as Kayako’s son Toshio.

If you’re not particularly fond of horror, I hope the last music video at least made you laugh!

Reference and top image: Sadako vs Kayako official website
Insert images: YouTube/ Eiga Kadokawa (Kadokawa Movie) channel