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TIFF 2016: Sadako vs. Kayako

“Tonight we’ll confront Kayako with another ghoul, to destroy both of them!”

Ali vs. Foreman. Freddy vs. Jason. Ecks vs. Sever. Freddy vs. Jason. Batman v Superman. Clinton vs. Trump. All of them, battles of the century! And now here comes another: Sadako vs. Kayako. If you ever wondered: “What would happen if the drippy-haired ghost girl from The Ring fought the warbling floor-crawling ghost girl from The Grudge?”, then it’s your lucky day: someone has made that movie, and you can experience it in all its weird glory.

The set-up may be silly, but Sadako vs. Kayako takes itself rather seriously, for its first half at least. Students Yuri (Mizuki Yamamoto) and Natsumi (Aimi Satsukawa) buy an ancient device known as a “vhs player”, which, as terrible luck would have it, contains that cursed videotape from Ringu. Natsumi watches it while Yuri is gazing down on her phone, and Sadako (Elly Nanami) — the ghoulish girl who haunts the Ringu tape — issues her standard warning: Natsumi will die in two days (it was seven days in the American remake, but time is short when you’re dealing with two ghoul girls).

Meanwhile, teenager Suzuka (Tina Tamashiro) moves into a new house that just happens to be right near the infamous haunted house from The Grudge. Suzuka has weird dreams about the house, which still stands empty after the murder-suicide that launched the so-called grudge took place. Within its haunted walls still dwells Kayako (Runa Endo), the crawling ghost who has a habit of croaking like a frog, as well as her ghost-son, Toshio (Rintaro Shibamoto), who yowls like a cat for extra-spookiness. How will the two supernatural forces that are Sadako and Kayako come together?

Glad you asked! Keizō (Masanobu Ando), a super-cool psychic who wears a leather jacket, shows up with his assistant, a cocky blind child named Tamao (Mai Kikuchi), to help Yuri and Natsumi get rid of their Sadako problem. His brilliant solution is to somehow get Sadako and Kayako together so they can fight, and destroy, each other. Why would this work? Shh, just go with it.

It’s here where Sadako vs. Kayako attains a welcomed sense of silliness, as Sadako and Kayako go at each other using every ghost-trick in the bag. There’s wet hair and croaking aplenty. The end result is something incredibly entertaining — a weird, somewhat goofy horror smackdown that will please genre fans and confuse others. Sadako vs. Kayako won’t win over everyone, but those in the mood for the strange the film is selling won’t go away disappointed. 


Sadako vs. Kayako is playing at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.


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Chris Evangelista is the Executive Editor of Cut Print Film & co-host of the Cut Print Film Podcast. He also contributes to /Film, The Film Stage, Birth.Movies.Death, The Playlist, Paste Magazine, Little White Lies and O-Scope Musings. 'The House on Creep Street' and 'Beware the Monstrous Manther!', two horror books for young readers Chris co-authored with J. Tonzelli, are available wherever books are sold. You can follow him on Twitter @cevangelista413 and view his portfolio at chrisevangelista.net

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