Movie Name: Ringu
Release Date(s): January 31, 1998
MPAA Rating: Unrated
An urban legend arises about a mysterious tape that kills whoever sees it. Reporter Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) decides to investigate the tape and tracks down the location…only to be cursed herself. With seven days to solve the origin of the tape, Reiko must team with her somewhat psychic ex-husband Ryūji Takayama (Hiroyuki Sanada) because it isn’t only Reiko’s time that is running out…but her young son Yōichi (Rikiya Ōtaka) as well.
Directed by Hideo Nakata, Ringu (or sometimes just called Ring or リング) is the adaptation of Koji Suzuki’s 1991 novel Ring. The movie was a box office success in Japan but also became an international sensation after the release of the American version The Ring in 2002.
I saw The Ring found it to be one of the scarier movies in recent years. The movie understood the importance of suspense and timing and still scared with a PG-13 rating. I sought out the original movie and I read the novel as part of an obsession…but Ringu is one of those rare movies where I enjoy the remake more.
It is gauche to say that you don’t love Ringu, but I think it is lacking something. I think that there is a little cultural divide in the movie which includes the Japanese obsession with technology that isn’t quite the same here (but growing), but it is that cultural divide that gives the American version its eeriness and disconnected feel. The movie doesn’t have the urgency I need and the roles are a little more divided here due to an increased involvement by the ex-husband.
The actors are fine in the roles. Nanako Matsushima feels more detached as the mother in the movie, and as a result, it seems a bit more ruthless as a result when she decides to save her son by sacrificing her father. Hiroyuki Sanada’s augmented role doesn’t help the plot but does flesh out the character more than the American version. I liked that you get to see a bit more of Sadako’s origin though less of Rie Inō who plays her.
The visuals aren’t as graphic or shocking as the remake as well. I don’t find the video as unnerving and odd. The deaths of the characters at Sadako’s will are supposed to be horrific and inhuman…but they aren’t. Here the characters just look like they died yelling…there isn’t enough distortion and horror. The movie still does deliver in the final moment where Sadako comes out of the TV. It is a great sequence in both films (and somewhat reminds me of Poltergeist).
Ringu might be the original and more critically acclaimed, but I still have to stick to The Ring. Regardless, Ringu and The Ring changed horror for the decade that followed. Horror came from Japan in such numbers (plus Korea, Mexico, and other countries) and the remakes also followed. Ringu had two “real” sequels. There was Rasen (1998) based on the novel Spiral which was a sequel to Ring, but there was also Ringu 2 in 1999 which continued the story from Ringu.
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