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A woman with long, jet-black hair covering her face drags herself out of a well. Limbs bent at impossible angles, the sinister figures crawls forward, emerging through a television screen. It is this image that has driven the “Ring” franchise since Hideo Nakata’s original effort debuted in Japan in 1998. The following year, “Ring” made its North American debut at Montreal’s then-young Fantasia Film Festival. History repeats itself twenty years later as the latest entry “Sadako” makes its North American Premiere as the opening film for Fantasia’s 2019 edition. It’s a promising sign that director Nakata returns to the series that built his name, but the veteran J-horror hand lacks the auteur chops to reinvigorate the franchise. The result is a listless affair where the iconic Japanese movie monster has become indistinguishable from her tedious imitators.
For this go-around, the raven-haired J-horror icon resurfaces in the form of a young girl (Himeka Himejima)—thought to be the reincarnation of Sadako by her mother, who attempts to burn her deviant daughter alive. Found wandering the streets of Tokyo, the now-orphan is brought to a hospital and placed under the care of psychologist Mayu Akikawa (Elaiza Ikeda). The doctor is doubly ensnared by the curse when her brother, a struggling vlogger selling himself as the “Fantastic” Kazuma (Hiroya Shimizu), disappears after entering the burned-out apartment in pursuit of some on-trend haunted house clicks. Once again, Mayu’s only hope for saving Kazuma—and her young charge—is to chase down the origins of Sadako.
Ghost - Power - Imagery - Victims - Days
This ghost’s power is rooted in imagery, literally, as she traditionally claims her victims seven days after they’ve watched a cursed tape. The recording itself, a series of eerie, beguiling images, becomes a trail of breadcrumbs for the principal characters, and the spectator, to follow. In the years since “Ring,” Nakata seems to have...
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