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May 30, 2013


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Tsutomu Hanabusa - 2012
Well Go USA Entertainment Region 1 DVD

Even though there is reference to the set-up of the first film, seeing the original Japanese version from 1998 nor the 2002 Hollywood remake is necessary to enjoy the continuing story of the long haired girl who lived in a well, who kicked off the boom in Japanese horror movies. Watching a 2D version of a film originally shown in 3D, I can only imagine what it might have been like to see that long hair spilling out, or that bony arm stretching towards the camera. Even if Sadako doesn't approach the kind of of artistry or pervasive spookiness found in Shock Labyrinth or Tormented, it offers a few visual pleasures. The story, by the way, is by Koji Suzuki, the author of the source novel and several sequels.

The biggest stumbling block is, if you knew that watching a certain video is connected to a history of people committing suicide, why are you watching it? Apparently curiosity does get the better of several people. An artist accused of plagiarism decides to make his suicide a live online event, and at the same time offer his life to the revival of Sadako, the girl in the well. His aim is to eliminate all human life, a disproportionately extreme reaction to some online criticism. Those dumb enough to look for the "cursed video clip" find Sadako emerging from their video screen to take them to their respective deaths. Sadako is in search of the perfect body to take over, which happens to belong to the young and pretty teacher, Akane.

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There is some humor as the middle aged lead detective, Koiso, investigating the rash of suicides, finds himself over his head regarding the language of contemporary technology. Sadako frequently haunts Akane, appearing on computer screens as well as the larger screens that appear on buildings, and even the side of a truck. Koiso remains unconvinced until his junior partner investigates the video, and more clues are revealed in the artist's studio.

Aside from hands and hair popping out of screens, there is lots of shattered glass flying around. There are also lots of flying insects, they look like butterflies, or more precisely, the basic shape of butterflies, white and black, but not detailed. What I like about 3D movies is when strange or scary stuff seems to come toward the viewer. And for those more sensitive viewers, most of what goes on here is more strange than scary.

The biggest mystery is: who is the landlady who rented out the artist's studio. While the two detectives are checking out the basement pad, she comments on how everything in life is artificial. She pops up again, incongruously, near the end of the film. Is she a part of the sequel that is currently in the works? And for that matter, who is the actress in that role?

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at May 30, 2013 07:32 AM