Sorry, I had to get that out of my system right up front so we can all get through the rest of this post in peace.
Boy oh boy, horror fans sure love a fight, don't they? The genre landscape is littered with films wherein two evil ne'er-do-wells face off in a deadly game of death: Freddy vs Jason, Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, Chucky vs Madea, Alien vs Predator, and so on. Well. Those of you who were waiting for some J-horror entities to go to town on each other (yes I know how that sounds) can, like, stop waiting! Sadako vs Kayako is here to bring you a battle the likes of which have not seen since 1998, when Brandy and Monica sung at each other to the death over The Boy.
"The curse is mine..."
Going into this film, I had some serious questions in need of some serious answers. The largest, most troubling, perhaps: how could Kayako and Sadako hate each other so much that they'd rather fight each other than team up and fight the living and then spend their down time brushing each other's hair and trading care tips? While I am happy to say that most of my questions were eventually answered, I am sad to say that the film does not end with the two evil ghost ladies brushing each other's hair. (SPOILER)
Two college gals buy a VCR at a secondhand shop and discover that there's a copy of the infamous cursed tape tucked away inside. They watch it and as you might expect, a phone call from Sadako ensues. She'll be there in two days to kill 'em because...well, because that's just what she does.
A high school student moves next door to the infamous murder house and eventually wanders over to check it out. As you might expect, Kayako starts creepin' down the stairs because...well, because that's just what she does.
With their lives at stake, all the girls find an exorcist–a young, cool exorcist, mind–to help them. His big idea is for everyone to become cursed by all the curses, for this curseception will cause Sadako and Kayako to duke it out so that one curse may rule them all. It's the obvious solution, isn't it? Duh.
Pro tip: DO NOT DO
Really, though, who cares why the two evil entities brawl so long as they brawl, yes? It's right there in the title! It's what we came for! And oh my goodness, it takes a long time to get there. Storylines are developed, mythologies are explained for the three people who have yet to see a The Ring or a The Grudge...and I'm not saying I wasn't interested–I admittedly have a soft spot for ghost-flavored Asian-flavored horror–but for a large portion of the film you feel as if you're watching a so-so sequel in each franchise, and you're left wondering when you're gonna get to The Good Stuff.
And what of The Good Stuff? What of the title bout? While there are a few moments that evoke a visceral cringing in that wonderful horror movie way (ugh, SO MUCH HAIR), it's not nearly as outrageous as you think it's gonna be. Two angry ghosts fighting, right? What a ridiculous notion! But the final act lacks the ridiculous zeal or self-aware goofiness of something like Freddy vs Jason. Imagine a friend says they're coming over with a pizza, and then they arrive and it's a frozen pizza. When you're done eating you will probably say "Hmm, I thought you'd be bringing a real pizza and while I ate what you brought and I didn't hate it–in fact, I even sort of enjoyed it–to be honest, now that it's over I feel a vague disappointment as my expectations were not met."
And that is how Sadako vs Kayako is a lot like frozen pizza vs real pizza, the end.
Yes, of course he's in it.
PS: Sadako vs Kayako is available exclusively on AMC's Shudder, which is basically a horror Netflix so you'd think I'd just have Shudder playing all the time, wouldn't you. WOULDN'T YOU.