It is a truth universally acknowledged that mash-up sequels are always terrible. Alien Vs. Predator. Freddy Vs. Jason. Alien Vs. Predator II: Requiem. So you’d be forgiven for thinking that Asia, that absolute paragon of deliciously screwed-up, genuinely terrifying and controversial horror (Ring, Audition, Dumplings (*shudder*)) would elegantly keep well away from it.
You would, however, be incorrect. This week, bloody-disgusting.com (along with some others) unveiled plans for a crossover film featuring the iconic evil spirit girls from Ring and The Grudge, titled Sadako Vs. Kayako and slated for release next year (around the same time that, coincidentally, Hollywood, in it’s infinite wisdom, is releasing yet another remake-sequel to the American The Ring saga, titled Rings. As a side note, I’d like to remind you that the entire premise for titling the first American remake of Ring as The Ring is wholly misleading. People who don’t know the original will watch it expecting a horror film about a ring, when there are no rings. Instead, the original film is called Ring because every time an ill-fated teenager watches that infamous video that sounds their death-knell, the phone rings. You’d have thought someone in the Dreamworks studio would’ve caught that. But I digress).
So, here’s the kicker: what’s the new film actually going to be about? I mean, both characters are long dead even at the beginning of the original films. Ring and The Grudge (or Ju-On, to give it it’s original title) are not, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, set in the same universe or at the same time in multiple universes — they’re not even by the same director. What could these evil spirit girls possibly be pissed off with each other about that’s worth waging war over? They don’t kill people in the same way, or for the same reason. The only correlation between these two characters is that they’re both young dead girls with long hair and fucked-up fingernails. When put like that, it sounds like Mean Girls set in a morgue.
J-Horror has ever been a respected contributor to the world of horror films, but the question needs to be asked: is it running out of steam? What is the point of making this film? I’d say money, but I can’t really even see it making much of that, to be honest. No crossover film in the (admittedly, short) history of crossover films has ever done particularly well. AVP made just over $38,000,000 on it’s opening weekend, where Freddy Vs. Jason did even worse at just over $36m. They don’t really work as a sub-genre for precisely the reasons listed above (TL;DR: paper-thin premises), and, with the best will in the world, their execution (sic) is clumsy at best.
Asia has produced some outstanding, bloodcurdling original horror. I’d hate to see a well-deserved reputation (and two critically-acclaimed films) discredited for a quick buck.