Yurei: Ringu

Good evening and welcome to part three of Berryz Kyuuden's horrific tales and reviews. Tonight I'll be watching Hideo Nakata's 1998 adaption of the novel Ringu.  The movie was so powerful and well-recieved across the world that not only did it spawn it's own anthology of sequels, but the 2002 US remake was also well recieved enough to spawn it's own sequels, seperate from the original Japanese stories they are based on. It proved so influential that many movies made since in the J-Horror genre it helped to re-define can claim some sort of inspiration from it, either in the way the story was told, the psychological breed of horror, or the mechanics such as camera that make a movie interesting.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to review this movie. I'd be foolish to ignore it, after all, it is regarded to be one of the best horror movies ever created. But at the same time this movie has been reviewed time and time again, every Halloween for the last decade people have sat down and enjoyed this movie, reviewed it, and generated one of the biggest cult followings a horror franchise has ever had. But I decided to go beyond the cliché barrier and review it anyway, because it's one of my personal favourite films - perhaps helped in part by the fact that it was my first ever horror movie. Perhaps.

I'm still pretty young. A 90's kid. I was born in 1991, and by the time this movie was released in Japan I was only 6.  Well, it didn't come here to the west til a little later and didn't become hugely known until the US remake. But I grew up not watching horror movies. I was always more of a comedy kinda guy. It wasn't til a couple years ago that I got really interested in Ringu  from the things I'd heard people say about it. And so I watched it, and it suddenly became clear to me why people enjoy Japanese horror movies so much. Western film makers don't understand horror, but Ringu was different from all those. It was genuinely scary.

What made it so scary? Let's take a look!

The movie opens with two girls, Masami and Tomoko, discussing a rumor which has been going around about a cursed video tape, and that everyone who watched the tape died a week later. Tomoko reveals that she and some friends had spent the night at a house in Izu where they saw a strange video tape recieving a mysterious phone call immediately afterwards - events which parallel the rumors of the curse tape. At the end of the scene Tomoko is attacked by something off-camera and dies, with Masami seeing the whole thing.

Several days later, Asakawa Reiko, our movie's protagonist and a reporter who has been investigating the cursed video rumors and what the teenagers who are talking about it think learns that her niece, who happens to be Tomoko, and her friends all died at the exact same time in different locations with the same fearful expressions on their  faces. She also learns that Masami, who saw Tomoko die, was admitted to a mental hospital after going insane, noting that "she is terrified to be in the same room as a TV".

She does a little research and learns, as we were told in the opening scene, that the four victims had all stayed in a rental cabin in the Izu peninsula. Reiko then pays a visit to the cabin and finds a video cassette in the reception room, she takes the tape and goes in to Cabin B4, the same room that Tomoko and her friends had stayed in, where she watches the tape. As soon as the tape ends, the cabin phone starts to ring and Reiko realises that she too is now cursed, assuming she has a week left to live.

She goes to her ex-husband, Ryuji Takayama, for help and he, curious about the curse, decides to watch the tape himself. Reiko creates a copy for the two to study closely, and when they do they find a hidden messege in the tape written in a particular dialect from an island off the coast of Izu. The two set sail for there and learn about Shizuko Yamamura, an incredible psychic who was ridiculed by sceptics.

The two come to the assumption that her daughter, Sadako, must have created the video tape and the two return to the cabin in Izu with the intent to put her vengeful spirit to rest by finding her body. Under the cabin they find a well, which was the same well that appears at the end of the cursed tape. Racing against the clock the two try to empty the well and find her body before Reiko is killed by the curse. They find the body and Reiko survuves. They assume that the curse is lifted. However, the following day when at home Ryuji's TV turns on by itself and the ghost of Sadako climbs out from the TV, killing him the same way that all the other curse victims had died before. When Reiko tries to think of why she survived and Ryuji didn't, she remembers that she created a copy of the tape and showed it to him, something which he didn't repeat, and so she realises that the only way to survive is to "copy and paste" the curse on to someone else.

I can still remember the first time I watched this movie. I was  a little confused by how unscary it was. I was still new to the whole genre, but I felt a little on edge by the fact that the horror wasn't quite as in-your-face as I'd imagined. In fact, most of the movie nothing scary is happening at all, and then there are scenes like the well scene where there's a really tense scary atmosphere and then nothing happens. In fact, even though nothing happened that scene is one of the scariest I've ever seen in a movie. That scene was even scarier than the ending, which is more famous. It's probably more famous because it was unexpected and has since made it's way into pop culture with references all over.

Personally when I first saw this movie I loved it, but I was a little dissapointed that I felt it didn't live up to the hype. I saw it knowing that it was regarded to be one of the greatest horror movies ever made, and that ruined it a little. But my own non-understanding of the genre was also at fault there.

The curse itself in this movie has become fairly standard. A supernatural curse which causes people to die of fright after being attacked 7 days later by a vengeful spirit. But the sequels do go into greater detail and explain that the curse is actually a paranormal "Ring virus", which was telepathically transmited by Sadako when watching the tape, or something. I've said it before but I'm not much in to sequels, Ringu or not. The idea in the sequel curse is much more creative - and truer to the original novel, but perhaps explains a little too much about the mysterious curse. Especially since the movie is more about investigating what's on the tape than how the tape causes people to die.

All in all an excellent film and, while I originally felt the hype let it down a bit, one of my favourite movies of all time. Be sure to check in tommorow night for the fourth part of my Yurei horror series where I'll hopefully review a slightly less cliché movie. Until next time, good night.


Alita said...

I haven't watched Ring in a while but the scene where Sadako crawls out of the tv always creeped me out. One thing I hated in the remakes was that they gave Sadako a reason for being evil (her family abusing her) where in the Japanese her family locks her away because she just is inherently not a sound type of soul.

Course Ring is great til you read the three novels and realize there is nothing horror after the first novel though the sci-fi aspect of it is really great.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Powered by Blogger