starring Elaiza Ikeda, Takashi Tsukamoto, Hiroya Shimizu, Renn Kiriyama
screenplay by Noriaki Sugihara, based on the novel Tide by Koji Suzuki
directed by Hideo Nakata
Fantasia Festival 2019 runs July 11-August 1 in Montreal, Quebec. Visit the fest's official site for more details.
by Bill Chambers After ushering in contemporary J-horror with Ringu, the first feature-film adaptation of Koji Suzuki's novel Ring, Hideo Nakata directed Ring 2, which was made in response to the poor reception of Rasen, a sequel based on Suzuki's own. Ring 2 doubled the original's grosses, and Nakata tried his luck in Hollywood. But with a stated desire to avoid horror (he didn't want to repeat himself), he couldn't get a bite from the studios (which only want people to repeat themselves)--until fate conspired to put him at the helm of the sequel to Ringu's own American remake, The Ring Two. Nakata nearly quit over the producers constantly foisting rewrites on him, which did not result in a particularly coherent or cohesive film, and the eminence he brought to the project was ultimately used against him by critics. He returned to Japan, where he's bounced around in the years since between film and television, documentaries and shorts, gradually coming to accept his darker creative impulses and the public's appetite for chills. The work, sadly, has suffered from a budgetary standpoint thanks to the Japanese film industry becoming collateral damage in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, and though the Ring series has persevered through these lean 2010s, it was reduced to schlock (a couple of 3D movies and a Ju-on crossover, Sadako vs. Kayako), dropping all pretense of being anything but a showcase for its black-haired, pint-sized Freddy Krueger in the bargain. For the newest entry, the approach was back-to-basics: Nakata again directs, Suzuki again wrote the source material, and the simplified title, Sadako, unburdens the picture of franchise baggage à la Rambo and Jason Bourne. Bona fides though these may be, what they aren't is a hook; say what you will about the asininity of pitting Sadako against Kayako--at least it's a foundation on which to build a movie.