12 March 2004 | Gafke
Everyone knows the story by now: there's a videotape which, when played, reveals a discordant string of disturbing images including a circle of sky seen from below and a man looking down from above, the word "Eruption" written over and over again and moving of its own accord across the page, a hooded figure pointing at some unseen accused, a woman brushing her hair before a mirror and, last but not least, a well standing alone on a neglected patch of land. The video ends and the phone rings...but there is only an eerie silence on the other end. In seven days, the viewer of the video is dead, their heart having suddenly come to a stop for no apparent reason. One such victim is a seventeen year old girl, and it is up to her aunt, hotshot newspaper reporter Reiko, to solve the mystery of the strange video.
Like the American remake "The Ring," Ringu is not a perfect film. It leaves more than a couple of unanswered questions and may move too slowly in some parts to hold the attention of horror film fans who are used to a bloody slaughter scene every seven minutes. But for fans of good, spooky, old fashioned ghost stories, "Ringu" has a lot to recommend it.
One of the things I appreciated the most about this movie is the complete and utter lack of gore. There's not a drop of blood to be found in this film, which makes the sight of so many dead bodies, their faces frozen in hideous screams of horror, all the more effective. The character of Sadako also has more of an impact than the child from the remake. Sadako never speaks, her face is never seen (but for one hideous, floating eye) and her presence is solid, unlike her static-y American sister. Sadako's emergence from the TV screen in the films final moments is worth waiting through the rest of the movie to see; it is a truly creepy moment which looks to have been filmed backwards as Sadako creeps with jerky, inhuman movements across the floor and up, swiveling to face her victim. That scene haunted me (no pun intended) for two full nights of broken sleep...mostly because Sadako seemed so terribly human, as sad as she was frightening. You pity her before you see her merciless side, and this throws the balance way out of whack.
Unsettling, to say the least.
This is a film about dread, about knowing that something dark and terrible is waiting for you and not knowing how to stop it. You can only wait and hope for the best...but the wait itself is the real horror, and the unseen unknown is the most frightening monster of all.