Sadako is the latest film in the Ring franchise to be released in Japan. Released in 2019 and Directed by Hideo Nakata who was Director on Ring (1998), Ring 2 (1999), The Ring TwO (2005) and ‘Dark Water’ (2002). Unfortunately the film is just another in a series of missed opportunities to reinvigorate the franchise and adds to the diminishing returns of these boring sequels.
The biggest problem with the film is that it’s just average. Beyond the very average acting and cheap TV frame rate cinematography it’s a movie where not much happens. Considering that it’s been 20 years since Nakata last directed a Ring movie in Japan one might have thought he had time to mule over a story or take some inspiration from the books considering that2 more had been released during his time away from the franchise.
The film explores similar themes as the other Ring films have. There is a clear theme of Motherhood and protecting one’s daughter in these films Vs. abandonment and abuse on the other side, leading to ghostly revenge. Again, it’s been done. There is no real mystery here. The scares are all too far and few between also. Gone is the suffocating atmosphere of dread that Nakata had so brilliantly created in his original Ring films.
It’s not all bad though. The moments where it shines are when it references the original 1998 movie and characters. It’s Shakespeare compared to the previous 3 films released in Japan, ‘Sadako 3D‘, the geniusly titled ‘Sadako 3D 2‘ and ‘Sadako Vs. Kayako‘. It’s a step in the right direct but from the man who gave us ‘Ring’ it’s a very lackluster offering. The film in no way attempts to reboot the franchise or tell a different story of which there is plenty of material from the books it could take inspiration from. I’m specifically talking about ‘Loop’ and the otherworldly setting that it presents.
Do I recommend it? It’s not the worst Ring film you’ll see. I noticed that it has a unfair rating on IMDB (around 4/10 at the time of writing) which I think is due to a copy of the film floating around with dire english subtitles. At worst it’s a movie that doesn’t go anywhere, at it’s best it’s not anything like the garbage sequels that came before.