Overall, there was quite a lot to like with this entry. One of the strongest factors here is the way this one utilizes the traditional elements of the series into creating a very familiar atmosphere. The film explores a rather intriguing investigation angle that was central to the original entries in the series where the authorities are looking after the young girl who wandered into their lives.
Realizing the connection between her and the mother who died and then trying to understand what’s going on by interviewing the girl has some great moments to it by setting off the nurse’s interest in the situation. The connection deepens when the brother gets involved and turns up missing with the fateful video of the scene which is analyzed and proven to contain enough about it to make the authorities look at it even further which is a stellar factor of the film. On top of that, the film’s ghost scenes are quite creepy and generally effective.
The opening scene in the apartment of the ghost interrupting a woman’s attempt to kill her daughter gives this a strong and shocking start, while the scenes at the doctor’s office investigating the girl provides some enjoyable moments here. This carries into the terrifying encounters at the hospital of the ghost coming to life and targeting the nurses’ patient in the corridors of the building which are just chilling and incredibly creepy but also serves a fine purpose of getting the traditional franchise elements into the film.
Alongside a strong finale that features plenty of creepy action on the island and keeps this one connected with the series incredibly nicely, these here are what manages to hold the film up for the most part. There are still some problems with the film. The biggest issue to be had here is the fact that the introduction of the girl and how the investigation is going to be handled just comes off as sloppy and mishandled.
The theme of Sadako, underneath the creepy crawling girl from the well, is the solidarity that survivors of trauma should share in order to make it easier to deal with. We discover that Mayu and Kazuma were also orphans as children, which connect them and the mysterious little girl all to Sadako, who was abandoned by both her mother and father. There are plenty of callbacks to classic Ringu imagery and plot points. A patient at the hospital was present for the events of the original film. There is mention of the curse being spread through internet videos as it was in later sequels.
This film is perfect for fans of Ringu and The Ring multiverse, and anyone who loves a good mystery with a dash of creepy horror imagery. As I mentioned previously, you won’t be jumping out of your seat (or maybe you will, I have seen way too many horror movies), but you will be intrigued, and sometimes the best horror is subtle and psychological. You be the judge if you think that’s the case for Sadako.
The whole does drag because of this and the fact that Mayu is pulled in multiple directions to simultaneously deal with Sadako and the girl channeling her separately and together. There are some cool visuals in the sequences that help bridge this connection regardless of the distance between characters and a few inspired reinterpretations of the iconic imagery that seared into our eyelids when watching the original Ring‘s death cassette years ago. The performances skew over-the-top at times, but those wide-eyed expressions of dread are kind of a staple of J-horror as I understand it. You must buy into that as part of the full package as well as accept that Nakata has moved things from analog to digital for the global proliferation of Sadako’s now more-discerning tastes.