The pale ghost girl from the well goes toe to toe with an ashen spirit ghost which haunts the home where it was created (by a murder committed in extreme anger) in this Japanese horror mashup that echoes other famous creature confrontations going back to “Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.”
J-Horror invaded America back in the late 90s when “Ring” became a global sensation. Audiences starved for horror embraced films like ‘The Grudge” and “Dark Water.” American remakes off these titles soon followed and the fad petered out. Recently “The Ring” has made a comeback across the Pacific. The success of the re-launch led to this “Freddy vs. Jason”-styled flick that reintroduces both ghosts for new audiences and even offers up a honey of cage match between the two.
The action begins with a send up of the “Urban Legends,” scene wherein a professor is seen introducing his students to the stories of famous myths which include the ghost from the well. He explains how a victim first observes the spirit in a videotape before receiving a call where they are told they will die in two days (though it was seven in the original but nowadays we have a shorter attention span). The scene ends humorously with the professor hawking his book to the students.
We meet two of our heroines in this class. Natsumi and Yuri are co-eds who could care less about these ghost stories(Yuri actually sleeps through the lecture in another poke at our diminishing attention span). Yuri volunteers to help her friend transfer her parents’ wedding video to DVD. They obtain a VHS player at a pawn shop but can only afford the cheapest model. A battered unit which comes chock full of human hair and an old tape inside which looks pretty roughed up.
They opt to watch the mystery tape but Yuri takes a text message and is saved from seeing it. While she thumbs a message, Natsumi sees the ominous images and gets the mandatory call announcing she will die in two days. Having just attended the lecture they know they are in trouble. Meanwhile a young lady working at the pawn shop confesses to the owner that she watched a tape in the machine they just sold and has been feeling sick for two days. She promptly dies.
Our heroines go to see their professor for help. He totally geeks out over the tape and watches it (thinking it will move the curse from his student to him). He then drags them to a spiritualist who tries to contact the ghost,Sadako, by forcing Natsumi to swallow enough water to float the Love Boat. This brings Sadako forward for a brief visit but it turns out, ironically, she doesn’t like being called.
Meanwhile Suzuka, the new girl in town ,finds out she is living across the street from the house seen in “The Grudge.” Her suspicions are raised when four boys she spies in front of the home are reported missing. She winds up going in with her parents who are promptly killed by the ghost of Kayako and her creepy brother. Suzuka escapes and seeks help from a ghost hunting guru who rocks mod hair-do , a few magic tricks, and a blind middle school aged assistant.
Turns out Suzuka’s protectors are already trying to help our other heroines. They divine a wacky plot to cross curse both victims so their respective ghost will have to fight over them. Cool idea, if not well thought out. Everyone pays for their arrogance in thinking they could outsmart a pair of evil ,whey faced, spirits.
The conclusion is brief but fun as these two monsters beat the ethereal stuffing out of each other. There is some good humor here too ,such as Kayako crushing the video tape that summons Sadako before leaping into battle. The ending promises another round and I sure hope that they get to do one since we were robbed of a ‘Freddy VS Jason” sequel by Hollywood knuckle draggers who couldn’t agree on a direction for the second installment (hey it’s not rocket science).
This is only available on Amazon Prime’s “Shudder channel, which at five bucks month is a great way to see horror flicks for the diehard fan. Expect a DVD release soon.
Best Line: “My curse and your curse will fight.”
Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.