In 1998 Hideo Nakata released Ringu in Japan. It would go on to change the face of genre cinema forever. Introducing the Western world to Asian horror and paving the way for cult favourites like The Grudge, A Tale of Two Sisters, Pulse, Dark Water and Audition. Whilst the golden age may be behind us, Ring films are still being made. Along with sequels, a prequel and American remakes, the focus fell on the central antagonist, Sadako Yamamura. She is back once again as Nakata returns to direct Sadako.
Mayu Akikawa (Elaiza Ikeda) works as a psychologist in a hospital. When a mysterious young girl (Himeka Himejima) with amnesia is admitted, she’s assigned to the case. Mayu soon discovers that her new patient barely escaped alive when her mother set fire to their apartment. She’s gradually drawn in to the girl’s story, and when her brother Kazuma (Hiroya Shimizu) disappears whilst investigating the arson the past comes back to haunt her.
Whilst the Ring universe was highly influential on popular culture and genre cinema, the standard of some of the films is frankly not the best. With Nakata back behind the camera there’s a clearer focus in Sadako. Although, at times it looks too ‘clean’. There’s a section in the middle which illustrates just how creepy and uncomfortable this premise can be, but he doesn’t manage to maintain this atmosphere throughout. As a whole, Sadako doesn’t really add much to the tale, but there are flashes of genius.
Sadako screens again at Fantasia Festival 2019 on 18 July.