Reiko Asakawa is researching into a 'Cursed Video' interviewing teenagers about it. When her niece Tomoko dies of 'sudden heart failure' with an unnaturally horrified expression on her face, Reiko investigates. She finds out that some of Tomoko's friends, who had been on a holiday with Tomoko the week before, had died on exactly the same night at the exact same time in the exact same way. Reiko goes to the cabin where the teens had stayed and finds an 'unlabeled' video tape. Reiko watched the tape to discover to her horror it is in fact the 'cursed videotape'. Ex-Husband Ryuji helps Reiko solve the mystery, Reiko makes him a copy for further investigation. Things become more tense when their son Yoichi watches the tape saying Tomoko had told him to. Their discovery takes them to a volcanic island where they discover that the video has a connection to a psychic who died 30 years ago, and her child Sadako...Written by
Hana Jo Gilmour
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
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