Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Ringu; Horror, Japan, 1998; D: Hideo Nakata, S: Nanako Matsushima, Miki Nakatani, Hiroyuki Sanada, Yuko Takeuchi, Hitomi Sato, Yoichi Numata
Reiko Asakawa, a news reporter, is puzzled by inexplicable death of her niece and some other people. According to rumors, they saw a cursed videotape, got a phone call and died after 7 days. She discovers the mysterious tape in some location resort and decides to see it: it consists of disconnected, bizarre images and has a running time of a few minutes. Immediately after that, she gets a phone call. Since her little son accidentally also saw the tape, Reiko makes a copy of it and gives it to her ex-husband Ryuji to analyze it. They discover a strange accent in it, coming from island Oshima. Once there, they discover the woman in the tape is the long dead psychic Shizuko and that her daughter, Sadako, was killed and thrown into a well, thus her ghost is behind the curse. They discover her body, but Ryuji gets killed by her ghost anyway. Only Reiko is saved because she gave a copy to someone else.
Since the US remake of the horror "Ring" is now also a few years old and not "modern" anymore, the viewers might as well see the Japanese original, realized only 4 years earlier in 1998 and directed by Hideo Nakata. It's a superior horror, a clever and penetrating story that builds its suspense with style, carefully shaping the basic plot with just enough measure to justify its reputation (the already legendary scene where the ghost "exits" from the TV into the living room). The basic plot about people who die 7 days after they see an infamous videotape is truly clever, scary and contains almost a small dose of metafilm touch - when in one scene the main female protagonist Reiko puts the tape into her VCR and goes on to watch it, the viewers evidently see the tape with her and are immediately actively a part of the "curse". The tape alone is barely a minute long, filmed in "pale" cinematography, consisting of surreal scenes like the one where a woman is cumming her hair in the mirror or some person cowered by a sheet standing in front of the sea. Cheap shocks were reduced to the minimum since a majority of the film is actually static and "inert", consisting of normal moments like the one where Reiko is taking care of her kid in her house, and Nanako Matsushima is very good in the leading role, but once the whole explanation of the tape starts, the film becomes at times too banal, contrived and far fetched: the way one clue "leads" to another is not quite logical. Also, there is a lack of a real point to the whole finale. But still, "Ring" is a quality piece of horror squeezing some creativity out of the sadly underused genre.