Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Halloween List: Sadako Vs. Kayako (AKA: The Ring Vs. The Grudge)

Sadako Vs. Kayako (2016)
If you were expecting reviews of two modern classics, I've got a surprise for you! This isn't contrasting the two films. It's a review of the much-overlooked movie in which their monsters actually fight. This is a real movie that really happened.

This is a campy and totally amusing crossover that’s almost as perfect as Freddy Vs. Jason, and has very similar sensibilities. If you enjoy the two franchises, it’s a blast to see people thrust through the paces of both hauntings, trying to survive both having seen the haunted tape and trespassed in the forbidden house.

Some people said Sadako (Samara in the U.S.) and Kayako aren’t in much of the movie, but both show up early on, and neither franchise has ever been about the two being lingering on-screen presences. They are slow hauntings that lead towards huge catastrophes. What our heroes have to do is cross the streams – to get both ghosts to follow them, and clash, in the hopes to destroying each other and sparing the living.

The weirdest part of the movie is the inclusion of an exorcist who often feels like he would’ve ruined the original movies. He knows enough magic to calm most possessed people and intuitively “gets” how both ghosts operate. He’s emblematic of the cheesier approach of the film: it totally lacks the severity of the originals. It is not a profoundly morbid waiting game. It’s punchier, faster, and acted with much less naturalism, although still enough personality to be fun.

Even the canon of the ghosts is changed, suggesting this is an AU where the tape kills you after just two days, and Kayako doesn’t wait to tear your head off. It all works to accelerate the collision between our title monsters, and it conveniently sets this an AU. That’s good, because the ending would certainly change both of those worlds.

Hell House LLC (2015)

If you expected two reviews today, then you'll get a second! Although this is an American film, set in the industry of seasonal haunted house attractions. It's a movie of strong hits and misses that I'm still mulling over.

The first ten minutes border on stagnant, showing off a chase scene from the end of the movie as though to tease you with what led there, but showing so much of it that it gets tedious. It takes some runtime for the movie to recover and fall into the formula of a bunch of co-workers setting up a "haunted house" Halloween attraction, unaware that someone or something is hiding in the house with them.

By the time we start suspecting a killer is hiding among their clown mannequins, the movie manages to get pretty tense. There are also great teases with one of the friends being a sleepwalker, and possibly connected to paranormal activity in the house. You almost forget that the movie was ever weak, until it gets weak again.

Because for all its neat ideas, the movie has some of the worst Found Footage shot composition. Are you frustrated when something wild happens but the characters don't point the camera at it? Then boy will you hate that chase scene, especially the second time through, when you spends minutes running around a house with no idea where anyone actually is.

It's a shame since those instances detract from the strong mood. One of the house workers notices the oddities, but he’s been such a whiner and prick up until then that it’s utterly believable that the rest of the cast brushes him off as being a troublemaker and not wanting to deal with him. That opens up a sense of vulnerability, because while we go to them to be scared, we always think of such attractions as safe. The idea that someone might use the guise of an attraction to put on a mask and actually hurt people is chilling

Up next: 1922 and Creep 2

1 comment:

  1. Fitting the two monsters should fight each other. Thought The Ring was brilliant, but that made The Grudge seem a bit of a rip-off.


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