It would appear that ‘More, more, more!’ was a phrase oft repeated in the planning stages and on the set of Sadako 3D, a film that could never be accused not attempting to up the ante. From the opening moments the gimmicky and excessive nature of the film is thrust into our faces, as a woman is thrown, still alive, into a deep well. The shot is not an entirely unpleasant 3D image, camera looking upwards, the height of the well providing the depth to the image, but this is quickly broken though as the woman falls towards us, perspective issues abound, and ‘out of the screen’, breaking the edges of the screen and any sense of spatial sense we may have been clinging to.
The opening continues and we are treated to a series of seemingly unconnected fragments of a story. Characters shout, die, get messages, hear voices and so on. None of it carries any weight and not much of it makes too much sense either. As the film progresses to its rather obvious conclusion these fragments begin to coalesce into something tangible but whilst at least understandable there is still nothing to clasp onto as something to care about, be it the flat characters or the workmanlike plot.
At the centre of this new Sadako tale is a high school teacher with a rather unusual past that marks her out as being somewhat different. Her school is rife with talk of a “cursed video clip”, an online video that if seen will reportedly lead very shortly to your death. The police are also even investigating the phenomenon, as many have already died, but still students and [INSERT NAME]‘s boyfriend continue to search for the clip, which ‘mysteriously’ leads to a 404 page.
The world of Sadako 3D is disappointingly small though and despite the web being a global concern this phenomenon appears to be located to just this small area. This is one of many ways in which Sadako 3D frustrates and one cannot help but see the film that could have been. The viral nature of the video and the obsessive hunt for it is fascinating subject matter and one can’t help but think of the way in which films such as Contagion have made use of somewhat similar starting points in order to tell a far more interesting story. Glimpses of a young pop group on outdoor screens appears at one point to be significant, instantly recalling Shion Sono’s patchy but far superior Suicide Club, but alas their reappearance most likely has more to do with only using one video for rights reasons than any attempt at social commentary.
It’s important to review the film as it stands though and not the film one can’t help but begin to imagine in a screening room as Sadako 3D drags itself towards a conclusion, stopping off for far too long for a cat and mouse sequence around an abandoned building; read shoddy set. One can hope for heady subjects, smart ideas and a thematically rich text when walking into an obviously schlocky picture but they aren’t always to be found. There needs to be something though, even if it is just the many simple pleasures one can find in this kind of entertainment. Sadako 3D is a disappointment at most turns though with a lack of well played scares – an omnipresent ‘creepy’ score doesn’t help matters – or an engaging mystery.
Die-hard fans of the Ring franchise will most likely find something to enjoy, even if it just the return of a familiar character and the dozens of large mutant versions of the character that accompany her, but there is little horror, fun or intelligence to be found in Sadako 3D.