Versus films seem to be almost as old as the horror movie genre itself. The classic horror monsters of the 1930’s and 40’s clashed. Godzilla and King Kong duked it out with each other as well as lots of other monsters throughout the decades. Even Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees faced off back in 2003!
So I guess it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that 2 Japanese Icons of Horror Sadako from ‘The Ring’ (Ringu) and Kayako from ‘The Grudge’ (Juon) were thrown into the versus ring. Right away that premise just sounds like a cash grab and it is, but it turns out its good!
Two friends, Yuri and Natsumi go to a second-hand shop looking for a VCR so that they can convert Natusmi’s parents wedding video from VHS to DVD. They buy a suitably creepy looking VCR and find a beat up VHS tape inside it. Of course you already know where this is headed. It’s the cursed video tape from ‘The Ring’ and soon the girls are cursed and the clock is ticking to their death!
Meanwhile a high school student Suzuka and her family have just moved in next door to the curse house from ‘The Grudge’ which is now abandoned but still cursing people and making them disappear! You’d think the city would just tear this place down as a public service but I guess not.
The two cursed friends Yuri and Natsumi, meet a medium named Kyozo that thinks he can end both curses by bringing the girls and the cursed video to the Cursed Grudge house, setting the movie up for a the big showdown between Kayako and Sadako!
There’s a lot that can go wrong with versus movies. If they take themselves too seriously it ends up just feeling stupid and if they get too silly with it then it just comes off as camp (see Freddy vs. Jason). However Director & writer Koji Shiraishi manages to give both Sadako and Kayako the right amount of screen time and respect. Both are scary and he doesn’t do anything to really diminish that. We get to see both ghouls take out people with their curses and the sequences are scary!
However the movie does find some light hearted moments in the what happens when the two curses interfere with each other. There’s an amazing scene where they try to perform a exorcism on Natsumi to bring out Sadako. She does come out but she kills 4 people in the process is a badass and comical way. This leads to the revelation that anyone who interferes with the curse will die. So it only makes sense to try to get Kayako to interfere so they can destroy each other.
Its rare a versus movie gets it right but this one does. It’s fun, it’s scary and its one hell of a ride! If you’re a fan of these two series of Japanese Horror films then you’re probably going to love this!
Sadako vs. Kayako is available now on Shudder Horror Streaming service.