Sadako – Japan, 2019 – reviews

Sadako is a 2019 Japanese supernatural horror feature film directed by Hideo Nakata (Ghost Theater; The Ring Two 2005; Dark Water; Ring, 1998) from a screenplay by Noriaki Sugihara, based on a novel by Kôji Suzuki. The Kadokawa Pictures production stars Elaiza Ikeda, Himeka Himejima, Takashi Tsukamoto and Hiroya Shimizu.


Mayu Akigawa (Elaiza Ikeda) is a psychology counsellor who gets involved in an incident with Yusuke Ishida (Takashi Tsukamoto). Jinko (Himeka Himejima) is a mysterious girl with amnesia who is taken to the hospital where Mayu works.

Meanwhile, Mayu’s younger brother Kazuma Akigawa (Hiroya Shimizu) is an aspiring YouTuber who tries to awaken Sadako’s curse to get more followers…


” …at times it looks too ‘clean’. There’s a section in the middle which illustrates just how creepy and uncomfortable this premise can be, but he doesn’t manage to maintain this atmosphere throughout. As a whole, Sadako doesn’t really add much to the tale, but there are flashes of genius.” Rob Aldam, Backseat Mafia

Sadako doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it offers up a well-made entry in the Ring franchise that does justice to the original source material. Kazuma maintains the creepy aesthetic of the original film, and adding in a wacky streaming personality into the mix manages to make the film relevant to younger viewers who’ve grown up with a cell phone in their hand.” Gabriel Sigler, Bad Feeling 

“The worst thing a horror movie can be is boring. Sadako is that in spades. Despite a premise that suggests an attempt to modernize this franchise, nothing has changed at all. The look, the plot, the scares all feel as if this 2019 movie was made in 2000, during the peak J-horror moment.” Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting

“In a sense, Sadako delivers what it promised: a film about the titular character. It is only sad it had to be in a generic, and ultimately forgettable package. Fans of the series may find something of value here but everyone else should stay far away, what Sadako fails to live up to in scares makes for an overall bland experience.” Brendan Frye, CG magazine

“The filmmakers set out for something technologically straightforward, narratively efficient, and relatively low risk. In returning to proven formula, Hideo Nakata and company deliver a thriller that’s classically creepy, if a bit basic. Considering the hills and valleys this series has seen over 20 years, staying safe may have been the smartest move to make.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

“Frankly, I miss the good old VHS tape. Don’t worry though, there is a glorious throwback to this, which was probably the highlight for me. The horror elements were not what I expected, but maybe I’m just jaded and wanted something more.” Karina Adelgaard, Heaven of Horror

“Nakata knows what kind of story he’s telling and when to embellish and when to move on. He never dallies where he doesn’t need to, and effortlessly builds a taut mood and escalates the pressure. The result is a tight, compact, spooky time.” Brent McKnight, The Last Thing I See

” …if you’re relatively unfamiliar with the franchise Sadako is certainly made well enough to entertain you. But others will probably find it too familiar to hold their interest. Nakata does add a theme of parental, and especially maternal responsibilities. This could have given the film a new dimension. But it gets pushed aside for most of the final act, undercutting it badly.” Jim Morazzini, Voices from the Balcony

“Filled with creepy dolls, scattered sutras, and a healthy amount of plot holes, Nakata’s return to the Ring franchise cannot recapture the magic of the original but does its best to ape its charms with yet another exploration of flawed motherhood retooled for more a more anxious age.” Hayley Scanlon, Windows on Worlds


Japanese horror

Image credits: (C) 2019 “Sadako” Film Partners

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