When it comes to Japanese horror films, there’s one recognizable image that seems to reign supreme. You know what I’m about to say, I’m sure, the long haired ghoul crawling out of the well and/ or out of the TV. That’s right….today’s pick is the original Ringu (Ring) from 1998, adapted by Hiroshi Takahashi and directed by Hideo Nakata.
Before we get too far, I’d like to say up front, I haven’t seen the American remake, The Ring. Sure, I’ve seen some clips here (it’s hard to avoid), but I’ve never sat down and watched the film so I won’t be spending the post comparing the two of them. I’m not sure if that will reassure you or let you down, but I hope it’s the former.
This movie wasn’t really what I expected. It starts off strong, setting up the legend, but once our leading lady, Reiko Asakawa (portrayed by Nanako Matsushima) gets her hands on the cursed tape, the film derails from its potential fright fest to an overexpository breakdown that almost takes the fright right out of it, even in the climactic finale.
While I appreciate knowing more about Sadako and how she became the demon associated with the film, I didn’t appreciate the length of time
spent analyzing every small detail of the admitedly less than spooky tape. You knowhow when you’re watching a horror film and they show you the monster or the demon right off the bat so by the end, during what is meant to be the scariest part of the film, you’re already adjusted so it’s not nearly as scary? That’s how it felt with Ringu in part. Te movie took all of the suspense away by trying to explain every detail.
It’s easy to see how this movie spawned a new era of horror films and I give it its due credit on that front. If you’re looking for a great Japanese ghost girl film though, I might send you over to Ju-On instead. You’ll know Ju-On by it’s remake, The Grudge. Now that’s a fun time, if you ask me. Still, if you’re interested in what gave way to the The Ring, give this one a shot, but don’t go in hoping for all the screams and scares you might imagine it contains. I certainly don’t regret having watched this film since it’s got such a place in horror history, but I wouldn’t watch it again. Perhaps I’ll check out the American version and see if I like that one more.