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  • fdpedro21 October 2003
    Warning: Spoilers
    In 2002, Dreamworks released a movie on American theaters called THE RING, by Gore Verbenski. It expanded to great lengths around the world. People claimed they had never been so scared while watching a movie in their entire life. Critics had mixed opinions of it, most for the better. But while the entire world was screaming to THE RING, others decided to reach out for the original version that Dreamworks decided to "hide" while THE RING was in it's theatrical run. The 1998 Japanese phenomenon RINGU (a.k.a RING.)

    Based on a 1991 novel by Koji Suzuki (claimed as the Japanese Stephen King) RINGU tells the story of reporter Asakawa Reiko (Nanako Matsushima), a middle-class Japanese single mother. Her latest story is the investigation of a mysterious urban legend that circulates around high schools about a tape that kills whoever watches it seven days later. She learns that five teenagers recently died from a heart attack at the exact same time, and that they were all friends who spent a vacation on a cabin resort exactly one week before. It becomes up close and personal when she finds out one of them was her recently deceased cousin Tomoko (Yuku Takeuchi.)

    Reiko eventually tracks down and watches the mysterious tape, and in one of the movie's many chilling moments, receives a strange phone call confirming that the urban legend is true, an element that reminded me of the 1992's similar CANDYMAN. She finds help from her ex-husband Ryiuji (Hirouyuki Sanada), a psychic with paranormal powers (an element obviously removed from the US version). Both Reiko and Ryiuji examine the tape carefully and realize it was shot in a nearby volcanic island. With only a few days left, they travel to the island where the dark, disturbing truth remains hidden, waiting to be discovered.

    Taking liberties from the infilmable novel, director Hideo Nakata (DARK WATER, CHAOS) and screenwriter Hiroshi Takahashi (DON'T LOOK UP) were able to create what is perhaps one of the most impressive horror films of recent memory, challenged maybe only by the less-subliminal AUDITION. Nakata's direction already explains what makes RINGU so unique: The absence of music, limited photography, simple camera movements, and no cheap jump scares. The fear in RINGU comes from skin-deep slow burn. If you are looking for jumps, watch the American remake instead. Which brings us to the infamous RINGU vs. THE RING internet battle: A pointless one.

    The 2002 remake had more technological resources and a stronger desire to freak out the audience. Director Gore Verbenski decided not to copy the original and went for a less subliminal more artsy Dario Argento dreamy approach with a Nine Inch Nails vibe and a David Fischer love for rain. While THE RING improved on the upcoming flaws of the original, it had problems of it's own. Not wanting to change the subject, let me tell you the Japanese version is the one to see. The problem is that most people who watch the recent remake will hate RINGU, and vice-versa.

    Unlike THE RING, RINGU avoids CGI shocks and cheap jump scares like a plague. You won't find any suspenseful moments, chases, or any physical struggles between the cast here. While the remake scared you with fast zooms, weird camera tricks, and inhuman freaky bursts of weird noises, RINGU scares you with it's lack of... sadism. A good example are the videotapes. The videotape seen in THE RING is a Nine Inch Nails video, in a good way, with very weird supernatural images and weird gross-out quick glimpses. The original's videotape is shorter and maybe even weirder. It shows you different but equally impressive images that belong to a David Lynch nightmare while a "scratching" noise is heard on the background. A noise that was unfortunately omitted in the remake. The Japanese tape can be either laughable or scary depending on the mentality of whoever watches it.

    But what makes RINGU the phenomenon that it is today is the character of Yamura Sadako, who turns out to be pulling the strings. Not wanting to spoil the plot, I will just say that never since Hanniball Lacter has a character with such little screen time terrorized the audience as good. The American doppelganger Samara was badly used in the remake. While what made Sadako scary was that she was pure evil, the remake's screenwriter Ehren Kruger tried to turn her into a Batman-like repressed character that you are supposed to feel sorry for. This terribly reduces the impact of "the scene". Which leads me to "the scene" itself. If you ask anyone who watched either version what "the scene" is, they will probably know. Let me tell you that "the scene" is done much better in this version. I will go as far as saying "the scene" is hands down one of the scariest moments in cinematographic history, very close to the shower scene and the climax of DON'T LOOK NOW. The remake tried to hard with it's own "scene", adding CGI effects, quick cuts, and many other gross-out elements that the original didn't need.

    But RINGU is not without it's flaws. Either the fact that I am not Asian, or maybe that I am not familiar with psychics, but the whole Ryiuji character left me wishing for more. Maybe the subtitle translation didn't make it clear enough, but I couldn't connect to that way he always had an answer to everything. Not that Sanada's performance is lacking. He steals the scene and carries out most of the movie. Remember Bruce Lee in GREEN HORNET? Maybe not, but that is Ryiuji here. And Matsushima is equally good, although she is given less to do than her American counterpart Naomi Watts. I will give credit to the US remake by eliminating the psychic subplot. I won't forgive the fact that Ryuji's American counterpart is a pointless and boring sidekick which is what ironically gives Watts her chance to shine.

    RINGU is still a superior horrifying experience that you will not easily forget. Forget the sequels (RING 2), forget the spin-offs (RASEN), the rip-offs (FEARDOTCOM), or remakes (RING VIRUS and THE RING). It all rounds up to here. Be sure to watch Nakata's equally good DARK WATER, which is already getting a remake on early works. Oh, the humanity...

    *phone rings*

    (4.5/5)
  • nycritic17 February 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    The late 90s saw a resurgence of well-crafted horror movies that have to this day virtually reinvented the genre. The Eye, Pulse, Audition, to name a few, are truly disturbing films that create horror out of objects or elements which are the farthest from the genre: a medical surgery to reestablish sight, the Internet, videotaping.

    With Ringu, Japan came into its own with a legitimate tale of horror which implies that the act of watching can actually kill you, and that evil can and will replicate itself through elements of our own technology as a means of feeding itself and thus, spreading itself out like a web. This is the secret within the film, and the theme which later on defines it (and the Ringu series).

    Ringu is not an excellent film. Far from it. But it does manage to instill a decent amount of atmosphere and eerie moments within its narrative (although there were scenes which, like the book, caused unintentional laughs, such as when the bodies of the two teens who first saw the video were taken out of the car and we are informed they were "making out"; and Ryuji's sudden revelation that he too has psychic powers) without resorting to cheesy special effects. Spooky, but not terrifying.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    **CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS**

    Ringu is an unassuming little movie that my boyfriend and I rented from the local DVD store knowing little about it other than it had inspired a recent Hollywood remake.

    The first thing which accosts you when watching this film, is it's lo-fi documentary-style reality. Ringu has the look and feel production wise of a TV movie, but this only adds to the objective of it, to terrify.

    The story unfolds of an everyday Japanese single mother, the backdrop is nothing unusual but this is required as the bizarre begins to unravel before the eyes of the watcher. The woman has a child whom appears to be a strange little boy, and in many ways he parents her in her hectic schedule. Her ex husband is an amiable fellow, though he has an annoying quality to any female whom observes him which one assumes is the reason for the couple's politely handled split.

    The story takes a turn for the more macabre when a videotape emerges which is shrouded in urban myth. The short synopsis is you watch the tape and die within seven days of doing so. A group of teenagers inexplicably die, one of which is the niece of our leading lady. Being the plucky reporter that she is, she begins to investigate the eerie tape initially by watching it herself and embroiling her ex in this grim fairytale by seeking his counsel, on technical matters relating to the tape itself. The two find themselves in a race against time to discover the secret of the tape when their son watches a copy that was made.

    The bogeyman of this psychologically rattling outing, is Sada- a child or a demon?, perhaps a freak of nature? No answer is given and the viewer is left to their own conclusion and speculation. This reliance upon the viewers observational conclusion is what makes Ringu a truly adult horror movie above all others, we are not told what to think or moralised. Ringu simply displays the evidence on the nature of Sada, and leaves you to suppose whether she is a tortured victim cast from society, or simply a demon and nothing more.

    If the objective of any horror movie is to scare, then Ringu succeeds with flying colours. Everything about this movie is genuinely disturbing and unsettling. From the mythology of the tale to the ghastly contorted faces of the corpses that Sada, the demon of the story leaves in her wake.

    The grainy gritty production plays and builds upon anybody who dares to watch. The bittersweet relationship between the two leads encourages us to care about them and their plight. The story piques the curious child in all of us, and dares us to look when we should not, and tamper with things that are beyond our understanding.

    The absolutely heart ripping and bone chilling climax to this movie is unmissable. You will not be able to stop watching, but be wishing that you could rip out your eyes simultaneously!

    This movie is a quiet and unpretentious if imaginative little piece from Japan, which displays something that Hollywood has lacked in the horror genre in many years. The director has a true innate gift for knowing exactly what it is that we can not put our finger on that horrifies the human mind. This film is very Japanese, and I cannot imagine it doing well when converted to Hollywood form.

    Ringu is a movie made to be watched on your TV at home, exactly the way I did renting the DVD from your local store. This plays upon the very nature of the story. The TV is something we all think of as safe, it's in all our homes, and it is exactly this that adds such an overtone of terror to this particular film

    As an additional note, my boyfriend was flicking through the extra features on the DVD and came across the cursed video clip, and proceeded to watch it. I couldn't, I left the room. This fact serves as the best conclusion that I can muster as to the brilliance of Ringu. It is not to be missed, but do not watch it alone!

    10/10
  • Gafke12 March 2004
    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.
  • Forget the fact it's subtitled - that only adds to the effect. The director's use of angles, sudden appearances of characters in the frame, wonderfully puzzling flashback and periods of absolute silence combine to form THE best horror film I've seen in years. Forget Blair Witch, this is a true horror story - it could happen to anyone. The Japanese location may make the story more remote, but also makes it more mysterious. The story would work in another locale, say, the Deep South, US, but there's just something about "Ring" which works due to its defiance to comply with cliche. Just when you think you've got the film nailed down and swaggeringly predict the next events, you're proven totally wrong and dealt the double joy and horror of a perfectly timed shock revelation or two. No spoilers about the ending, needless to say, you will not see this one coming...
  • I have to disagree with the comment above from Mike Washen. Indeed, the storyline of both movies is similar for the first part of the movie (no complaints so far), but the second part of the originals movie is more believable IMHO. The original has only one real special effect but this does not mean that the movie isn't scary. Especially due to this lack of special effects a better thrill is created al throughout the movie. One sees just enough to get scared. The originals story builds up a tad more slowly which gives a better story overall. If you are going for special effects, take the remake. If you like to see all 4 movies and like a scary experience overall take the original.
  • The storyline is based around an Urban legend that involves a piece of footage that causes the eventual death of anyone having watched it. A female news reporter, Reiko Asakawa , investigates this case after her niece is the latest victim of the alleged curse. From here on, the film follows the female lead's search for clues as she races against time to find salvation. Caught up in the events is former husband, Ryuji Takayama , who possesses latent psychic abilities which come in handy later on as things start to spring to light. The film is made in typical Japanese horror genre style that plays on the mind as well as including sudden shock effects. Fans of urban legend type horror will take delight in this offering from director Nakata Hideo and whilst the film does lack substance somewhat, it makes up in suspense and mystery. You are also made to sit on the edge of your seat by the film's soundtrack which is disturbingly quiet, subtle and sinister. The atmosphere is the key part of the film that makes it a horror masterpiece. The story is cleverly written to move at a rate which keeps the audience interested and finally end in a twist that sets itself up for a sequel.
  • I watched The Ring before Ringu and was sorry that I did. Everybody thinks that the US always does things better. This is one example of how wrong those people are. Now, don't get me wrong, The Ring was a good flick. I enjoyed it very much, BUT, it really fell short of the original. So much was lost in the translation and in remaking it. If you have never seen The Ring, do yourself a favor and see Ringu first. It really shows how the Japanese can make good horror. The story is based on a novel written by Koji Suzuki entitled "Ringu". If you get the chance, you can pick this up over at Amazon, it's a very good read and shows you how the story was meant to be told. The Japanese film was a better adaptation of the movie. I give Ringu 8.5/10
  • Unlike some reviewers here, I'm happy to have seen Hollywood's 'The Ring' first. Now that I've seen both I would have to say that 'Ringu' is the better film (marginally).

    The Hollywood version was quite an unsettling experience in it's own right and having seen it first I rather expected 'Ringu' would be a 'ruined' experience as I was already familiar with the overall story and, of course, THE scene. After all, when the scene finally occurs in 'The Ring' the unexpectedness of it very much increases the shock of it. I hadn't been truly frightened by a scene from a horror movie for a very long time so I was unequivocally impressed.

    So when I got around to watching 'Ringu' my expectation was low. I assumed that the absence of surprise would diminish the experience greatly but, as it turns out, the difference in the styles (and some of the substance as well) was adequate enough to scare me all over again even though I thought I knew what to expect. Somehow I doubt that this would have been the case if I'd watched these movies in reverse order. I believe 'The Ring' would have been less enjoyable as it likely would have suffered from comparison.

    The familiarity actually served as a primer for watching the original. I've found that reading subtitles often detracts from the complete enjoyment of a film as one's appreciation of the visual content usually suffers from the distraction. In this case though, I found it to be less of a problem. Of course it certainly doesn't hurt to have the ability to rewind and in instances where I was unable to finish reading the dialogue completely you can be sure that I made use of it.

    The first difference that struck me was the teens found in the car. Like the girl in the closet in 'The Ring' their faces are frozen into grotesque masks, but the more terrifying aspect is that they have been 'gotten to' outside of their homes and all at the same time. This really drives home the realization that there may be no way to escape this thing. Safety in numbers? Nope. Don't go home? Nope, won't help.

    'Ringu' is somewhat more detailed in providing background than is 'The Ring'. The demonic child is shown in a scene that was omitted from the copied version and it adds a little something extra to our understanding of this terrifying entity. Also, I found that the valiant attempt to lift the curse by trying to 'free' the spirit from the well was more intense and claustrophobic (not to mention yuckier) than the American film.

    But what is it exactly that is so disquieting about both versions? Well, to begin with, the seemingly unrelated, disjointed and positively eerie imagery that is seen on the mysterious videotape really gets under the skin. The first time we see these we are troubled by the strangeness of them and thoroughly perplexed as to their meaning. We come to realize that a seed of uneasiness has been planted within us. The direction is masterful at nourishing this seed not only by showing short repeats of these images, but also by giving us incremental hints of what is still to come. We are briefly shown the well. Briefly again, the beginning of emergence. Briefly again, it's almost out. More and more I found myself getting cold shivers at each progression. The uneasiness is becoming dread.

    But there's something else that frightens apart from the film's construction. Is it the ultimate realization that this thing will not be placated no matter the heroic and well-intentioned efforts of the film's principal leads? Yes, that's an acutely chilling slant to be sure. But ultimately, I feel that the most disturbing element is that, were we to find ourselves in this position, we would be faced with a terrible choice - face the horror ourselves or deliberately inflict it on another. Escape it and you condemn your own soul. Now that's some scary sh*t
  • Afterwards the horrible death of some adolescents and her niece Tomoko , the journalist named Reiko begins to investigate rumors about a videotape that causes the strange murders . As she discovers that whenever a teenager spontaneously dies with a horrifying look on his face after hearing a supposedly killing videotape and one time the phone rings ,telling he had only one week to live . The TV reporter shows up to investigate these deeds . Reiko is helped by his ex-husband and later they face a race to save their lives from spooky creature . Reiko tries to get the bottom of mystery and discovers the secrets of life of Sadako and her father . Besides mysterious events are happening at home her husband and both of them are caught up by ominous Sadako.

    Based on original Japanese novel by Koji Suzuki , it was a real success in the Asian cinemas and all around the world . This horror film provides great load of screams, grisly killings and creepy atmosphere which becomes pretty sinister with the Sadako appearing . The picture is a sleek production with average budget by approx 1.200.000 dollars , and packs genuine chills , suspense, tension , and shocks , it's a terror-thriller very exciting . The film is paced with intelligent edition, special use of color and slick utilization of shock images . This frightening movie displays thrills , chills , hard-edged drama and ghastly images . While the look is suitable atmospheric and eerie, the argument stretches plausibility to the breaking point. This is an acceptable adaptation of the novel and movie that took successfully Japan . The movie has some special effects describing series of weird and otherworldly happenings and a magnificent make-up specially reflected on the hair-raising countenance of dead . Eerie musical score and tenebrous cinematography with the TV surrealist images filmed in 35 mm and in super 8 style . The motion picture is professionally directed by Hideo Nakata in similar style to Takashi Shimzu movies . Nakata is an expert on horror cinema with eerie phantoms of pale complexion and long hair and directed its following ¨Ringu 2 (1999)¨ ; furthermore he directed US version ¨Ring 2¨ with Naomi Watts. Of course ¨The Ring¨ followed its American version directed by Gore Verbinski whose argument copies exactly the Japan original movie without surprises.
  • This movie was considerably hyped up, so I saw it eventually. My personal opinion is that this is more of a good mystery movie than a horror movie - it really wasn't that scary, to me at least. The only really scary moments were spoiled for me because I had already seen them before on things like "The 100 Scariest Movie Moments" on TV or something, and the notes by a critic inside the DVD box also spoiled it.

    Sound design was one part of this film that struck me - quite good at doing what it was supposed to, sometimes unsettling. I didn't feel a lot of character to be honest - just people making their way through the story.

    In my opinion, worth seeing just to investigate the hype, but don't expect to need a new change of underwear after seeing it. For that, you might want to consider The Grudge.
  • Rumours abound about a video tape that, once you watch it you have a week before you die. When a relative dies in a way that suggests she saw the video, journalist Reiko tracks down the tape and recklessly watches it. She finds she is under the curse and shows it to her ex-husband to get his help. When her son watches the tape Reiko and Ryuji race against time to discover the meaning behind the curse to be able to lift it.

    I came to this only knowing the hype and the barest bits of the story. I knew it was meant to be scary and I wasn't disappointed. The plot is good in it's one word description but there are a few holes in it and something's aren't well explained. However it is a good story to follow as it is a form of a ghost hunt as they try to unravel the mystery. The whole thing has an air of uneasiness about it.

    The film has some very scary moments – especially the ending which I won't even hint at. However for the most part it is just plain creepy – which is even worse. There's no blood or gore – just a real sense of being uncomfortable. The director has seen teen horrors before so he teases us – he has shots of people with doors just over their shoulder, or the TV lingering in the rear of the shot – knowing that we are conditioned to expect something to jump out – but then nothing does. Instead the scares come slowly and blatantly really not being shocking but just making your skin crawl.

    The acting is superb all round although Sanada is a little stony at times but he gets better. The real star is the director who uses music and sound effects to get the eerie effect but also uses images that are weird to just creep out the whole film. I hope Hollywood directors learn what can be done with subtly rather than multimillion pound monsters or effects.

    I have said before that Fire Walk With Me was one of the creepiest films I've seen. And that was for the same reason, just making me feel uncomfortable and unnerved. Here this little gem takes that to a whole new level.
  • relwes3 February 2005
    This is a superb horror film. There's something about this film which gets under your skin, into your nervous system, and then it turns out the lights and creeps maliciously into your brain. The film has few jump-out-of-your-seat moments, and minimal violence, but as the plot develops the atmosphere becomes almost unbearably sinister and unpleasant. The climax of this film is one of the most frightening scenes in the history of cinema, and is guaranteed to turn your bones to jelly and leave you a quivering dribbling psychological mess.

    Forget the pointless Hollywood remake, go and see this film today! There are no cheap tricks here, no melodrama, just poker-faced top performances from the cast, and some genuinely unsettling dark ideas which will bubble away in your subconscious for years to come.
  • The journalist Reiko Asakawa (the gorgeous Nanako Matsushima) resolves to investigate the death of four teenagers who watched a videotape that might kill the viewer seven days after watching the film. The viewer would receive a telephone call and seven days later would die. She herself finds the videotape, watches the strange movie and becomes afraid of being killed. She prepares a copy for her ex-husband, who decides to help Reiko in her investigation, specially because their son has also watched the film.

    This movie is great, with characters well-defined, excellent cast and direction and a screenplay focused on the story and not in special effects. An original horror movie, with a tight plot. Why Americans insist in spoiling excellent movies? It is amazing the quantity of (expensive) remakes of marvelous foreign movies that Hollywood spoils. Once I heard that American people would not like to read subtitles, but I refuse to believe in such non-sense. The American remake 'The Ring' is not a bad movie, and Naomi Watts is a great actress. But why the remake? The modifications introduced by the American screen writer and director changed a simple and terrifying plot into an expensive, complicated and non-resolved story. My vote is nine.

    Title (Brazil): "Ring - O Chamado" ("Ring - The Call")
  • I tried for some time to get a copy of this film having seen the American re-make. I was impressed with the re-make and found the plot fascinating. I have to say I was equally enthralled by the original, in fact in some elements found it to be superior. The key to this films appeal is the way the suspense, horror and unease is built with no gore or real action. It is just a slow relentless ramping up of suspense and the dark foreboding which is accentuated by the dark moody filming. I feel this is where this film scores over the re-make. The hollywood version comes across as slow and almost boring , in comparison. There is one key defining scene in both films (which I wont reveal of course)and , I have to say, this was done better in the new version. This is a great film but I think that comments like "best horror ever" are a bit over the top. Overall I would say, a great suspenseful example of sheer horror without the gore.
  • malkworldorder27 September 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    If you have NOT seen "The Ring" (American) then I urge you to see this one first. Not because this version is "better"--actually, the American version is superior in my opinion. In fact, I gave "Ring" the score I did ONLY because of the originality and suspense of the plot line and the quality of (most) of the acting. The execution of the plot line, however, was completely and utterly ruined right in the middle. Right when the ex-husband OMG SUDDENLY HAS AMAZING PSYCHIC POWERS and KNOWS ALL. Can you say, "lazy scriptwriting leads to completely anti-climactic deus ex machina?" I knew you could. I think it also lacked in subconscious imagery to play up the creepiness and sense of dread. Some fans call this "realism" but for crying out loud, this is a ghost story and there is no realism in ghost stories! I will say, though, that the use of ancient legend and certain real historical elements lent it a very "shivery" flavor and that worked well with the plot.

    It's definitely worth watching though.
  • I am a massive fan of J-Horror and nothing compares to the genuine terror I felt the very first time I watched Ringu. If you haven't seen it already then I don't believe you... but if you actually haven't then please watch it now.
  • When it comes to horror films, no film has had the effect that Hideo Nakata's psychological thriller Ringu has had on me. No film has ever creeped me out the way Ringu did. Never have I felt such a thick, unbearable tension then when I first watched Ringu. And never has a film made me sleep with the lights on. To this day, after viewing the film several times, Ringu still gets under my skin, with it's bizarre imagery, slow burn pacing, and ultimately the most terrifying force ever seen in a horror film: Sadako Yamamura.

    The plot revolves around a mysterious urban legend too silly to be true. A strange video tape promises death to anyone who views it. Once viewed, victims have one final week. Reporter Reiko Asakawa(Nanako Matsushima) thinks it nothing but a silly story; that is until her cousin, young Tomoko(Yuko Takeuchi) and three other young students die simultaneously one night, a week after watching the tape. Reiko comes to possess the tape, and watches it herself. Now, with the help of her ex husband Ryuji Takayama(Hiroyuki Sanada), who has also viewed the tape, Reiko has only seven days to save herself from an inevitable death, and protect all that she loves from a powerful evil.

    Where Ringu strikes its audience the hardest is not with a gratuitous amount of quick cuts, ample jump scenes, or gory images It is all in the slow pace, the feeling of inevitable doom drawing near, for with each passing day, the characters are closer and closer to their final breath. The fear that the characters experience is shared with the audience, as the evil of the tape presses down harder, and harder, and harder. As the film progresses, questions are answered, but more are raised, and the super natural world and the physical world begin to collide. Watching Ringu is comparable to digging a pit, looking for answers, with no where to go but down, knowing full well that time is running out, and that giving up may be for the best.

    Director Hideo Nakata films Ringu is quite a simplistic, low key way, focusing on the mystery of the video and our protagonists quest more so than fancy visuals and cool images. Ringu looks very, ordinary, in most scenes. Filmed in such a way, the paranormal, downright disturbing episodes are exceptionally distressing and shocking, as they seem completely random and unparalleled to reality. And that's the beauty of it. Even during bright, outside scenes, the audience is never left to feel safe, for what is around the next corner remains unknown. The audience never feels safe. There is one scene in particular, the basics of which I will not discuss here, filmed entirely in grainy black-and-white, bringing all to the heart of the nightmare, and grabbing the audience at a rather unsuspecting moment. It is one of the scariest scenes in the entire film. And thats saying something. I also love Nakata's play on water and darkness, two themes that prevail throughout the film.

    The character of Sadako in this film is an absolute force- pure, monstrous evil. She lures victims, plays with them, keeps them guessing. Once you enter her territory, you lose all control. She is not the cute little girl seen in the American films. She is not the sympathetic loner seen in Ringu 0. She is not the sexual figure seen in Rasen. She is not the cheep scare tactic seen in Ringu 2. She is a powerful monster, a physiological demon whose powers sweep into the physical realm. Her presence is everywhere, even though the character herself receives very little screen time. Its all about messing with your mind, and that's what Sadako does best.

    The film's score by Kenji Kawai is also very noteworthy. Though not used often, when it is employed it it incredibly frighting. Distorted, surreal, piercing, and not overly dramatic, the score heightens the viewers sense of unease and surrealism. The films use of sound effetfs is also incredible; Not since the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre have sound effects created such vivid images.

    The acting is all very good. Nanako Matsushima does a great job in the lead role. She portrays fear and realism very acutely, and easily gains our sympathies as she fights to find an end to the tape's curse. Hiroyuki Sanada is brings life to his character, who himself is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Yutaka Matsushige, who plays Reiko's young son, plays his part very low key and is quite enjoyable to watch.

    I can't really explain to you how or why Ringu is so great. It just is. If you like horror films, watch it. If you like Japanese films, watch it. If you don't like horror films, watch it. If you hate reading subtitles, watch it. Whatever you do, just watch it.

    10/10
  • After hearing so much about this movie I finally was able to buy a copy...and I was NOT disappointed. What a horror rush! I watched while I was alone one night and had to turn on all the lights in the house when the movie was over...and I am a horror movie nut from way back; I'm not an easy scare. Sadako is one frightening character. I'm in complete agreement with those who say this film actually is better on the small screen: it is an intimate film and being closer to the screen actually adds to the intensity.

    I won't rehash the storyline since so many others have already done so. I will just say that there is one scene in this movie that will imprint on your brain for the rest of your life. The whole film is wonderful...a great exercise in tension and anxiety.
  • atinder24 June 2009
    This was the first Asian horror movie I saw, That got me into Asain horror movies!.

    So when I saw, I DARE YOU TO WATCH IT!, On the cover, so I had to pick it up! ( I didn't know about the plot was until I watch the movie!).

    I am Sure we all heard about the plot, if you somehow missed the plot, This had been remade into The Ring (2002) and then year later it was spoofed in Scary movie 3 (2003) too!

    It creep me out , from start to the end!,

    One scene in this movie scared the hell out me, that scene was so frightening, Made me jump so badly, I almost hit my head on the cealing.

    The Atmosphere in that scene (and most of the movie) is so powerful that you think your in the movie yourself.

    And now that scene has become one my favorite scenes ever.

    This was first movie to scare the hell out me and I loved it!

    9/10
  • After all the wait and hype, my copy of The Ring arrived in the mail today, and I was excited to see what was touted as one of the great horror masterpieces of the last decade. And what I got was something close. Real close...

    The movie starts out great with two girls talking you right into the mood the great parts of the movie generate. Dark, creepy, and atmospheric. Here is a modern horror film that doesn't have to rely on over the top gore to send your heart into overdrive. THERE IS NO GORE AT ALL for all you gore hounds out there. Sorry! The story is nothing new, view this cursed tape that is going around, and a week later you'll die.

    Maybe it was just the translation on my copy, but half way through, the dialog didn't seem to make much sense. I will watch it again, but I don't really think that it will matter much because this middle section is used to just throw you completely off track. But don't get me wrong, it is interesting to say the least.

    The movie doesn't live up to it's bill until the end. WOW, now that was creepy to the max and worth the wait. The score was great and acting believable. If you are looking for a good reason to get creeped out The Ring is it...the only problem is that you may have a hard time finding it due to the fact that it isn't released here in the states. But if you have patience, go for it. It's not the greatest movie but it kicks the Blair Witch any day.
  • Has anyone rented out the Exorcist or the Wicker Man after being told how unbelievably scary they are, only to be disappointed by the Exorcist and completely disappointed by the totally un-scary Wicker Man?

    Well then, rent out Ring. If you can sit through this film without a feeling of eeriness and not crack up at the final scene, then you must be some form of superhuman.

    Everything about this film is excellent. You are uneased by the surreal imagery on the infamous video tape and the atmosphere produced by the film getting your nerves ready for the final insomnia inducing final scene.

    Other Recommendations: Dark Water, Ring 2.
  • Hideo Nakata's 'Ring' is a masterpiece of the genre. Without a doubt, this is the scariest film ever made. It also marks the only time in my entire life when, upon finishing the film, I rewound the tape and WATCHED IT AGAIN without moving a muscle! This was partially because of how much I loved it, and mostly because I couldn't have slept anyway!

    Watch this along with 'Ring 2' and 'Ring 0' before seeing the crappy american version, as the remake contains elements (and scenes) from those two films as well.

    I also feel that anyone who likes the american remake more than the japanese original should not be allowed to have opinions about anything. Not politics, religion, movies, restaraunts, parking spaces..... NOTHING! Shun these idiots like lepers. Or just pity them...
  • While I realize that it might simply be that I am an american with no knowledge of the japanese language beyond "Mushi, Mushi" and "Arigato" but I simply did not think this movie is as good as it is hyped up to be. In fact, (oh god save me) I enjoyed the American version of the movie more so than this one. Perhaps it was due to cultural differences that I simply couldn't 'get' this movie but I'm somehow don't think so.

    "Ringu" simply did not draw me in and make me really believe in what the characters were doing. Like many Japanese movies, I simply could not accept that the character would really do what they were doing; it just didn't make sense to me that these people would go running around Japan trying to discover the mystery of the 'video' based on some people dying. The american version seemed to give characters some extra motivation to go in search of the truth, with unexplained supernatural events, scary dreams, etc. Perhaps its a testament to Japanese work ethic or American laziness but I just thought there wasn't enough to back up the characters actions.

    I realize it might somehow be hip to say that you enjoy foreign films more than their domestic counterparts and insult the Hollywood 'money machine' and decry the end of american cinema but I simply can't do it with this movie. The ultimate and final test to determine whether a horror movie is good is of course whether or not you are scared. And I can say that the american version of "The Ring" made me ruin a perfectly good pair of underpants whereas the Japanese version made me jump maybe twice and laugh once.

    The main problem this poses is which movie do you see first because seeing either film will ruin the ending of the other. And so not to take anything away from "Ringu" (which is, in and of itself a great movie), I can honestly tell you that you should see the American version first... and bring an extra pair of underpants.
  • Ring

    Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) is a reporter who, while working on an article about an urban legend involving a videotape that kills whomever watches it, starts to investigate the unexplained sudden death of her niece, Tomoko (Yuko Takeuchi). Reiko is understandably reluctant to buy into the rumour, and as soon as she finds the tape down at a holiday cabin where Tomoko and her friends stayed a week before they all died, she watches it without hesitation. But then the phone rings, and Reiko discovers just how much truth there is behind the talk after all. Now, she has just seven days to live, and with the help of her ex-husband, Ryuji (Hiroyuki Sanada), Reiko must delve deep into the mysterious origins of the tape, before it threatens to destroy her.

    Originally published in 1991, Kôji Suzuki novel 'Ring' has been adapted once before, in the form of a television movie from 1995 ('Ring: The Complete Edition'). But that film is generally regarded as a rotting turkey of a motion picture, which leaves producer Takashige Ichise to give Suzuki's 'Ring' the proper treatment it deserves. To help him achieve this goal, Ichise has enlisted the help of filmmaker Hideo Nakata, who has just one film under his belt, 'Ghost Actress', which came out two years ago. At first, some may have reservations about a relatively inexperienced horror director helming a screen adaptation of what is actually more of a mystery than a thriller. But by the time those people have reached the final reel, their reservations will be sure to have been replaced by pure, undiluted fear. Because that's essentially what 'Ring', in Nakata's hands, has turned out as: an unrelentingly terrifying film, that will have you on edge around your television set for days to come.

    Nakata hasn't much of a budget to work with, but makes the most of everything he has, and constructs each scene with impressive precision. Nakata is certainly a tease, inserting slightly open doorways or shadowy corners into the background of almost every shot. But rather than satisfy the audience with a multitude of "jump" scares, he instead leaves them writhing in agony, using each moment of the film to summon up a palpable sense of impending dread. Nakata also tinkers with the sound design to great effect, but thankfully does not lazily fall back on scratching violins and close-ups on corpses to shock the audience.

    And at the same time, 'Ring' is also just as creepy when everything is dead silent, with nothing going on except the main story right in front of you. Nakata is eager to thrill the audience, but never interferes when he doesn't need to, and only releases the tension when the time is absolutely right. It has to be noted, however, that the lighting of certain scenes does seem to be non-existent at times, causing the large dark areas bleeding into the screen to actually irritate the mind rather than chill it, but for the most part, cinematographer Junichirô Hayashi's work here is the stuff of nightmares. As is an exemplary orchestral score by Kenji Kawai, which will send shivers down your spine from the moment the opening credits sequence starts. Nakata has now proved himself as a maestro of horror movies (or at least this one), but I'm tempted to hate him for it; 'Ring' got under my skin so much that I almost wanted the film to just stop.

    Nakata hardly relies on star Nanako Matsushima for 'Ring''s quality control, but her performance is nevertheless worthy of note. The actress is the focal point of interest during the calm before the storm, and she handles her role sublimely, reacting well against Hiroyuki Sanada, who is also quite good, but his character is a little too cold and gruff for my liking. It's Matsushima who provides the emotional heart of 'Ring', and you'll be behind her character every step of the way.

    While 'Ring' as a whole is considerably frightening, the final few scenes (where the seven days are up) are perhaps the most unnerving of all, with echoes of David Cronenberg's 'Videodrome', and a parting shot borrowed from 'The Terminator'. I don't mean to overly praise it, but 'Ring' is more of an intense experience than an actual film, and the horror becomes amplified by the unexpected twist ending, which paves the way for an immediate follow-up. 'The Spiral' (based on Koji Suzuki's sequel novel), comes out at the same time as 'Ring', and I look forward to seeing it, but am also disappointed that Nakata was not involved in its making. At this point, Nakata seems to be the best, and only, man for any 'Ring'-related job. Why? Well, many reasons, but like I said, you'll be wary of your television set for quite a while.

    ~ 9/10 ~
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