Sadako 3D (2012) – By Duane L. Martin

As a young girl, Akane saved her fellow students from a crazed killer with an inhuman scream that can shatter glass and emanates from her with a destructive force that can stagger and knock back anything around her. She became an outcast amongst her fellow students and treated like a freak. She felt like such a freak and an outcast, that she was going to commit suicide by jumping off the roof of the school, but one of the students, a boy named Takanori, saved her from jumping. He was the only one who thanked her for saving them and saw the pureness of her heart. They have been together and in love ever since, and now, all grown up, Akane is a teacher, and the two are living together and still very much in love.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have a once popular internet artist named Seiji Kashiwada who’s gone utterly insane and has dedicated himself to the resurrection of a girl named Sadako, who was shunned as a young girl, and eventually thrown down a well to die because she used her gift of kinetic powers to terrorize those around her. When Seiji criticized another artist, people on the internet piled a sudden and brutal hatred upon him, and it drove him over the edge. He dedicated himself to the resurrection of Sadako, who had now become a hideous demon, because her resurrection would mean the death of all humans. She needed a specific body to resurrect into however, and after throwing several girls he had kidnapped down the well without success, he ultimately created an internet video of his own suicide, which was actually his own murder at the hands of the demon spirit Sadako. This video then spread out over the internet like a living thing, moving from place to place. It was insanely hard to find because it was always moving, but anyone who was unfortunate enough to stumble upon it either committed suicide after watching it, or Sadako’s hand would come out of the screen and force them to their death.

When one of Akane’s students named Noriko, found the video and fell out of her window to her death, the police were investigating, and throughout the course of the investigation, came to realize that this curse video was all too real. Unfortunately, this was something of which Akane was already keenly aware, as she had used her scream to save Noriko’s best friend Lisa from Sadako after she had become obsessed with finding the video to discover if it really had caused Noriko’s death. During the incident however, Sadako had grabbed Akane’s arm and discovered that she possessed the body and the qualities she needed to resurrect, and once Akane had been discovered, Sadako went on the warpath trying to get her, even to the point of kidnapping Takanori in order to get her to surrender herself to the merging. Now, only Takanori’s love and Akane’s inner strength and purity can save her from Sadako’s evil.

This film was based on a novel written by Koji Suzuki, who also wrote the novels the Ringu (The Ring) movies were based on. The front of the box says, "The terrifying conclusion", but unfortunately I’ve only ever seen the American version of The Ring, and I never saw the second Ring film, so I don’t know how this one relates to them as far as the story goes. This isn’t really a problem however for the average viewer, as this film, while it can leave you feeling like it’s referencing past events at times, mostly stands on its own, so if you’ve never seen any of the other films, you won’t feel the need to catch up, as this is its own self contained story. This film is also not the conclusion apparently, as Sadako 2 is slated to be released later this year.

Sadako has many weaknesses, but it also has a variety of strengths to offset them. One of the biggest weaknesses in my opinion are the 3D aspects of the film. Not because they look bad, because they don’t. It’s because in this film, as in so many that are specifically made to be in 3D, they include numerous elements, visual effects and camera shots that only really exist for the 3D effect. Every time I see these kinds of shots and effects in 3D films, I can’t help but feel that they detract from the film, not only from the story, but they can also, and quite often do affect the pacing of the various scenes that contain these elements. It’s almost like a visual speedbump. Sure it’s pretty and cool to look at, but ultimately we watch films for the story, and when these elements detract from the story, or the pacing of it, that’s not a good thing. This film does suffer from that to some degree, but the quality of the rest of the film makes up for that.

Another weakness this film has is in relation to the cursed video. The purpose of the video was to allow Sadako to search for the proper body to possess, and yet not only does the video make itself damn near impossible for people to find, but somehow it manages to allow Sadako to come through television screens as well, which have no connection to the net at all, which didn’t make much sense. Let’s be honest, the whole cursed video thing never made much sense in the first place, but if you’re going to go that route, at least be consistent.

Two other things that felt like they could have been touched on more were Sadako’s original death and back story and Akane’s scream power. Adding in some extra story covering these two things would have made the film feel even more self contained rather than feeling like there were things you needed to see from the previous films.

I also would have liked to have seen more focus on Seiji Kashiwada and the lead up to his creation of the video and the madness that overtook him. Again, a little more back story there would have made the film feel more self contained.

Now, those are some of the weaknesses, but as I said, there were many strengths in this film that balanced out those weeknesses. First and foremost among these was the quality of the acting. The entire cast was extremely good, and really presented the story and their characters well. Satomi Ishihara as Akane was just incredible in the role. She had the right amounts of sweetness and purity mixed with strength, terror and determination. She really brought out the best in the character and made her someone to pull for. Koji Seto played her one true love, Takanori, and the relationship between the two felt very sweet and loving. He came across as a super nice guy who was really in love with her, and that made their whole relationship and connection completely believable.

Something else that was just spectacular in this film, even though you don’t really get a full on double helping of it until the end of the film, are the Sadako demons. Yes…plural. There are a whole bunch of them, and they’re creepy as hell, while at the same time, just absolutely awesome looking. Their appearance defies description. When they’re hit, they explode into a swarm of flying bugs that quickly dissipate. I’m not sure why they’re so easy to kill, but I’m guessing it has to do with a limited budget to do the CGI work, and they put all of their efforts into making the demon look way cool. There is also some practical make up with the demon as well that looks especially terrifying, usually involving it’s upper body and head. Throughout most of the rest of the film, you really only get the cliche hand coming out of the screen or the hair whipping out to grab someone before Sadako starts crawling through the screen.

Considering it could have used some extra back story elements, the story itself holds up quite well. There are times when you wonder however whether Akane is in a fantasy or in reality, because it sort of jumps around in a certain part of the film and surreal things start happening. I think this was the only part of the film that felt a little disjointed and confused.

With great visuals, a good story and a stelar cast that really makes you pull for their characters, Sadako isn’t perfect, but in the end, it really is a pretty cool film, and was actually better than I expected it to be. It’s definitely worth your time to check out, especially if you love really creepy looking demons.

There aren’t any special features included with this release, but you can select to watch either the 2D or 3D version of the film on the blu-ray release.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page on the Well Go USA website here, and if you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself, you can get the blu-ray or DVD from Amazon, or from any of the other usual outlets.