Not to long ago in the early 2000s, Japanese Horror remakes were all the rage. From The Ring (2002) starring Naomi Watts as a journalist battling a mystical course originating from a VHS tape that foreshadows death to The Grudge (2004) starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as an American girl living in Japan who is terrorized by supernatural spirits in her new home, the American remakes were far from the horror pedigree of their original Japanese counterparts. Although the American films brought a particular amount of fan-fair and recognition to a movement of late 90s and early 2000s Japanese horror, the remakes lacked the cultural fortitude of the originals.
At the forefront of this movement reimagined for American audiences, was Ringu (1998). The original Japanese film is a masterful work of horror that thrills not only through style, but cultural voice. Directed by Hideo Nakata and based on the book of the same title by Koji Suzuki, the film is an acute articulation of horror. Unlike the American remakes that reimagines for a Western audience searching for thrills, the original Ringu is firmly about the Japanese cultural relationship with the television and escapism as a direct mechanism of death. The spirit of a little girl killed unjustly and who places a curse within a mechanism of distraction, speaks to a culture and dangers of excess and avoidance.
It’s with this rich history of smart horror that the new teaser and poster for Sadako (2019), being released in Japan in May generates goosebumps of anticipation, via Moshi Moshi Nippon. Not only does the film promise the return of Sadako’s curse, but the movie is directed by Ringu’s Hideo Nakata. With Scream 4’s social media killer agenda coming to mind, Sadako centers on a teenage boy who works to awaken the curse by the way of Youtube. “The film will star Elaiza Ikeda as the main character Mayu Akigawa, a psychology counselor who gets involved in an incident with Yusuke Ishida, played by Takashi Tsukamoto, who will try to fix it. Hiroya Shimizu will play the part of Mayu’s younger brother Kazuma Akigawa who becomes a YouTuber to try and awaken Sadako’s curse. Himeka Himejima will play Jinko, a mysterious girl who lost her memory and is taken in at the hospital Mayu works at. Renn Kiriyama will play Mayu’s colleague Minori Fujii.”
Whereas Ringu spoke to the television and VHS generation, the new film speaks to the youth of social media and today’s streaming culture. From the haunting and eerie teaser, it seems that Sadako’s curse will return with vengeance and consequences.
— 映画『貞子』公式 (@sadako3d) January 17, 2019
As evident with the teaser that heightens the nostalgia with the television static ghost infused effect and the theatrical one sheet poster that harkens back to the original Ringu’s tension, Sadako seems to be a return to form for the series and for director Hideo Nakata.
Sadako lands in theaters in Japan on May 24th. We’ll keep you posted here on Nightmare on Film Street when it’ll be available for U.S audiences. In the meantime, join the conversation on Twitter, Reddit, and the Fiend Club Horror Group on Facebook!