Judge David Johnson will stay away from abandoned wells. And creepy dark-haired little girls with monster teeth.
Terror goes viral.
The disc case is eager to notify us that Sadako comes from the writer of The Ring. Yeah, that's obvious within twelve seconds.
Facts of the Case
A disturbing scourge of suicides is plaguing local schools. An online video purportedly of a man killing himself live on the Internet is making the rounds, and anyone who views it, ends his or her own life immediately after. Who is this mysterious man? Apparently he's an infamous airbrush artist. So there's that.
A female high school student eventually finds herself trapped in the cycle of viewing and suicide, as her friends get sucked into the vortex. But who's doing the killing? A freakish girl with dirt black hair who moves all jittery and weird, of course.
Sadako proudly boasts its 3D credentials and if you have the proper equipment you will be able to enjoy multiple exciting scenes like "That hand is reaching out to grab me!" and "That hair is reaching out to grab me!" and "I think that's her kneecap reaching out to grab me!" The 3D gags are pretty obvious and rendered with little verve. The CGI used to pull these gimmicks off leaves much on the table, and will likely distract you more with its amateurishness than any legit ability to frighten.
As far as the frights themselves go, there are a handful of cheap jump scares only two genuinely off-putting moments.
• Our heroine spins around to look for her friend and sees him hung by the neck. This isn't necessarily terrifying except for the weird prop the filmmakers use—an elongated rubber mannequin with an almost comical face. I don't know, somehow it works.
• The first full-on emergence of Sadako from the deadly well. I guess all maniac spirits of dead girls live in wells. She's got the clammy skin, the monster face, and the grimy coiffure going, but bonus points for the hugely oversized legs, turning her into a nightmarish combination of homeless lady and grasshopper.
The final 30 minutes is dedicated to an extensive chase sequence between Sadako and our protagonists. Here, the film transitions from psychological terror to a flat-out creature feature. There are some clever beats, some more jump scares, and a lot of hair. But when it was over, I was just bored.
Well Go USA's Blu-ray is okay, scoring a 1.78:1/1080p transfer with moments of solid clarity, yet often betrays the economical visual effects found within. The darker sequences—essentially the entire finale—have their share of thick grain. Lots of screeching audio cues from the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix, English subtitles, the 2D version, and no extras.
Sound and fury and attempts at creepiness, but ultimately Sadako left me disinterested.
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