Rasen Review: Also known as “Sadako the horny (and Bangable) ghost”

Title: Rasen, “the Spiral”

Director: George Iida

Writers: George Iida (Screenplay)  Koji Suzuki (Novel)

Cast: Koichi Sato; Miki Nakatani; Hiroyuki Sanada; Hinako Saeki.

Duration: 98 Minutes

Country: Japan

Year: 1998

What happens when a movie and it’s sequel are filmed simultaneously by different crews and an almost completely different cast? Probably Rasen the sequel to the 1998 movie “Ringu” that premiered the same day Rasen did with both being filmed the way I told you and the result is probably not the one the studio desired. As I mentioned in my Ring 2 review while the Ring and Rasen or “The Spiral” didn’t do as well critically or in box office terms.

Now to be fair the main problem I have with this movie is that I wouldn’t consider it horror. It is not a scary movie. I mean I would say it belongs more in the Mystery genre than it does in the horror genre. More on that later

The plot is like this “Dr Ando is a former friend of Takayama from university and a forensics pathologist. After performing the autopsy on Takayama’s body and investigating his friend death he comes across Sadako’s cursed video watches it and with the help of Mai Takano he decides to solve the mystery of how to rid the world of Sadako’s curse once and for all”

So before we move to the spoiler part I’ll give you my spoiler free opinion of the movie. I said in my ring 2 review that I liked more that movie than this one and I after watching this movie a couple of times more after that I say I keep that opinion however Rasen is not an unwatchable movie it’s just a mystery movie that fooled people into thinking it was part of the horror genre but ends up being a mystery movie. But be careful if you do watch it because it may spoil the first one… if you don’t mind that and you are you can spare an hour and a half I think it can be watched

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So now that we are in spoiler territory let’s begin with the story. Like I said Rasen was made simultaneously with the Ring 1998  and it shows in the sense that it feels like a completely different movie than the other movie. It uses many elements that were probably mentioned or addressed in the novel but didn’t make it to the 1998 “Ring adaptation.

It begins immediately after the events of the first movie when Dr Ando, who is a depressed suicidal man after the deaths of his family or at least his son is called to be informed that Ryuji Takayama is dead and that he is in charge of the autopsy. We are told that Takayama and Ando were good friends, the kind that invented a code to communicate between them. The first hint that this isn’t going to be like the ring  is the autopsy scene when Ando “hallucinates” that Takayama is speaking with him. I guess they were going for a scary or creepy feel but instead I had to stop the movie because I began to laugh.

Yep this corpse begins talking after all his organs have been pulled out.

Then we meet Mai Takano, the protagonist of the second film, who was Takayama’s lover, when we meet her here at first she is still shocked by the events of the day, the death of her boyfriend, but she does manage as she speaks to Ando about how Takayama had told her about him and about Ryuji and Reiko’s investigation into the tape, which she seems to know a little, unlike in two when she gradually learnt of it as she began to investigate what had happened with her boyfriend. At first Takayama is sceptic to accept the fact there is a killer tape out there, instead he tries to explain everything with medical science, which leads to the theory that what’s killing the victims is a kind of Virus and that the heart attack was provoked by something biological, a tumor of some sort. This can be seen as something interesting but for me it kills the supernatural feel of the first one, especially when one of the hypothesis is how the virus infects people which is pretty ridiculous.

Now when Ando does get his hands on a copy of the video, it’s when it differs the more because he watches the video and Sadako’s spirit, who is a pretty hot dead woman forcefully makes out with him before he passes out which made me scratch my head.Then he decides that it was Takayama’s wish that he saw the video and destroyed it as to end Sadako’s curse.

He then heads to Reiko’s workplace to meet the man who had given him the video to investigate, and asks that he gives him the video and ends up in a fight over it. He eventually does get his hands on all the copies, destroys them and claims he doesn’t want to die which leads to him and Mai having sex. And after more virus/cause of dead talk we flash forward to the day Ando’s time is up but he ends up surviving without a reasonable explanation… at first but then Mai wakes up feeling nauseated and Sadako appears behind her when she looks in the mirror and only blood can be seen when Ando goes searching for her later, and she appears again the following day very eager to have sex with Ando again (Weird since she didn’t seem to have all that much time the first time) and then police discover a corpse in Mai’s building. (You’ll never guess who it is)

It’s then we learn that Sadako is no longer a Onryo and that she has returned to life, we also learn that Takayama has been helping her after his death… (erm… ok)… after his death. But that’s not all…

Earlier in the movie the MC gets Reiko’s notebook with her notes about her and Takayama’s investigation into the video (who is off-screened to death along with her son in this movie (something I’m pissed about because the reason they give for it is stupid to say the least, they claim that their way to avoid dying failed but it makes no sense because Reiko survived more than 7 days)).  And these notes come back in the climax, in a stupid way because it turns out everyone that reads them contracts a virus and dies, except Ando because he has plot armor and is Sadako’s fuckbuddy. Unlike the video, an object that has an explanation for doing what it does they don’t even bother explaining how Sadako did that with a f***ing notebook.

We also learn that Sadako’s intentions for creating the video was because she wanted humanity to experience the fear she experienced while in the well (more or less an interesting motivation that expands what we learned in the first movie) and to come back to life (while infecting men so that if they make love with woman after watching the video so that they become pregnant with her and give birth after a very short unnoticeable pregnancy that usually kills the woman… I guess) She also wants to bring back Takayama and needs Ando to help her… because Doctor and all that.

Of course Ando… you know what you’ll have to see the movie to know what happens I need to leave something out of this review. So this part of the story is weird, I mean you kind of guess something is off since he watches the video and Sadako tries to have his way with him, for me that scene is kind of hilarious by the way even if it had me like scratching my head like I said before. But aside from the destroying the tape having sex with Mai which I kind of could understand, he who was suicidal now faced with the prospect of death discovers he wants to live, that’s why he always backed out of killing himself and she feels pity for him, the rest of the second half (what happens after he watches the video) was a whole load of WTF for example Sadako’s way of coming back to life is ridiculous (at least for me).

So that’s my opinion about the story and the movie a thing that just leaves with a feeling of “WTF did I just watch?” even if it starts like a decent mystery the second part, which brings the WTF moments and ridiculous answers to the mystery and weird and probably out of character twists (Takayama’s collaboration with Sadako) and some of the things I didn’t talk about kind of spoil the mystery movie this supposedly horror movie is and actually prevent it from being good.

About the atmosphere and tension building, this movie has some does use the scenes they filmed in the dark for jumpscares and even if it does try to build tension the moment he sees the video you just scratch your head for most of the second part and it’s not like you are at the edge of your seat wondering what’ll happen with a possible brief exception. It keeps you interested but you don’t really fear for the main character.

The characters are well Dr Ando the main protagonist is a character who is not unlikable and is really well-played by Koichi Sato and if he was the character of a true horror movie you wouldn’t want him to die. Plus I kind of understood the reasoning for all his actions.

Mai is kind of different in this version, for one her ESP are explained and shown unlike the Ring 2 where it’s more shown and hinted at which I liked more (It was a mistake to mentioning this more in the Ring 2 review since her powers do play a role in that movie as well and helped hint why she became Takayama’s gf) those powers for example were the reason she slept with Ando, she seems to have more knowledge of what Reiko and Takayama were investigating before dying. While she does help the MC in this character here her role is more that of a supporting character and as such she wasn’t as active in this movie which I thought was a shame. Good news is she still faints often and still is mistreated by police detectives. Although I didn’t like her as much as in two I didn’t dislike her in this movie.

Now Ryuji Takayama’s character I must say I didn’t like. While in the first movie he wasn’t the most affectionate father he showed he cared for his son and even his ex-wife, it’s true that in a moment of desperation he shouts it would’ve been better if Reiko and him hadn’t had Yoichi but it was more because Reiko was about to give up. Here he said he always had wished he didn’t have a son that he helped Yoichi because of Reiko but that he wished he’d never have been born, later it is said that i’s because of how the world is I imagine meaning the possible discrimination and mistreatment that people like Sadako and her mom suffered. His alliance with Sadako doesn’t make sense either their back-stories are different.

Now the evil spirit/character of Sadako. Well first off she is not scary she is creepy at most and while you can understand her motivations, the motivation they give more importance to in this movie coming back to life, the way she does it it’s kind of ridiculous. Other than that even if in two she does exhibit more powers than just appearing through the tv that added to the scary feel of the movie even if you can have issues with the explanation or the powers, here the Reiko’s notes being able to kill people by infecting them with a virus is BS (bullshit). In this movie aside from coming back to life she also wants to give birth to life which would explain her having sex with the MC after reviving if she became pregnant by the experience but that’s not the case, so I guess she is just horny, when she does bring life it’s thanks to in vitro fertilization I think. Other than that she just doesn’t feel like the Sadako we know from the Ring. Did I mention that she is not scary? I did? Let me repeat it then. SHE ISN’T SCARY AT ALL! She is portrayed by two actress who do really well with what they are given (the actress who plays Mai takes over the role of Sadako after she is reincarnated).

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So now for the conclusion, like I said when we were reviewing the story the WTF moments of the movie and the second part prevents its “Mystery” from being a good mystery especially since the answers to the mystery are kind of stupid and sometimes out of no where kind of like the twist. Sadako suffers from what I explained in the character review, and the ending which I didn’t reveal has another WTF moment and not a very good one. My main issue with this movie is what I said before, it is a  mystery movie that tricked its audience into thinking it was horror, and it’s not a good mystery movie either so as a result it disappoints horror and mystery movie fans.

All that being said it does have some unintentionally hilarious scenes and I think it’s a movie that can be seen (like I said at the beginning of the review is not unwatchable) if only to say you watch it and to experience and have a good laugh with some of the WTF moments I’ve been mentioning throughout the review after overcoming the initial confusion they generate (some WTF moments might just leave you scratching your head without laughing afterwards though). Plus they might interest you on the books where some things of this story might make more sense. My recommendation is to watch it if you do have time to spare that is, if not don’t think you are missing a great movie.

Definitely not a five stars story but deserving of the Two Stars out of Five I give it.

PS: One more thing, even though this movie was known for a while as the “Forgotten” sequel, since it’s the only one of the two based on the novels, the two modern movies of the Japanese franchise are sequels to this movie (or this story) and not “Ring 2”. So it hasn’t remained forgotten.