Title: the Ring
Director: Hideo Nakata
Writer: Hiroshi Takahashi (Screenplay) Kôji Suzuki (Novel)
Cast: Nanako Matsushima; Hiroyuki Sanada; Rikiya Ôtaka; Rie Ino’o
Duration: 95 minutes
The movie The Ring or Ringu is a J-horror movie from 1998 and one of the best movies of this sub-genre of horror, to the point where it and the rest of the movies of the Ring Franchise are along with the Ju-On franchise the two main J-horror franchises who made J-Horror more or less known around the world and both franchises spawned two american horror franchises (The Ring and The Grudge franchises). The Ring or Ringu is based on a novel from the same name by the writer Koji Suzuki. The movie’S director Hideo Nakata has also worked in other movie adaptations from Mr Suzuki’s other work and he was the director of the second film in the american “the Ring” franchise.
The plot goes like this: “Reiko is a journalist who has lost her niece just recently, when rumors of a killer video begin reach her ears she learns of a legend of a killer Video that kills you seven days after watching it. Despite being sceptical at first when she learns that her niece had seen the video 7 days before her death and that the friends who watched it with her died on the same day she decides to investigate further. After watching the video and convinced she only has seven days to live she starts a race against time to uncover with the help of her ex-husband Ryuji the mysteries of the killer video, save herself and if possible end the curse.”
Now let’s start with what I think about this movie. The movie is amazing, it is one horror movie who deserves its position as of the best movies of the horror genre and one of the flagships of the J-horror sub-genre. It is extremely very scary and very entertaining to watch. Now we enter the spoiler territory.
So first the story, the story is really, really interesting and in my opinion it spends the right amount of time between the main characters’ investigation into the video, Sadako and her family and scary scenes that the end result is a really good movie. And the thing is that it is a story where everything makes sense, there’s not a scene that you say this is useless to the movie, or a scene that distracts you from the main plot.
Hell! You even understand some of the decisions of the character that in other horror movies make you roll your eyes, although I must admit there are times when you think the character should have been more careful. For example while you understand why she keeps the tape around, you don’t understand how she could be so careless not to make sure to know where the tape is at all times which has terrible consequences for her young son.
Also ESPer abilities play a role in the movie, but they are introduced in a way that makes sense in the context of the story (Unlike the visions and prophetic dreams from Jaws in Japan), for example the MC calls her ex-husband who is just a University professor to help her because he has possesses ESPer abilities.
The ending which has a twist of the kind “We were wrong about what had to be done to solve all of this” along with the death of a character only to realize they had already done what needed to be done to at least save their lives (at least hers) is really clever. To speak clearly the vengeful spirit still kills one of the characters because they messed things up but on the process the surviving character discovers how to save the little boy because it was the way the surviving character had been saved before. I believe it’s a fantastic way to end this movie especially with the way the movie fools you .
Next this movie’s tension building. This movie builds tension very well, on every scene you for example feel the urgency of finding a solution quick before the main character’s time is up, then her ex-husband’s and then her son’s, this is represented very well all throughout the movie and has you glued to the screen praying for their success at every moment, you actually can feel what the character is feeling for example when they get frustrated and the more important thing as the film goes on you can feel the fear growing inside you all the way to the grand finale.
Now the atmosphere of this movie is amazingly creepy when it has to be, above all with the scenes of dark places or just dimly lit, it can keep you scared at all times even if there’s nothing to be scared of in the scenes. It’s the kind of atmosphere that really helps the movie to build its tension, (that’s something I think Asian Horror movies do really well, building tension using their atmosphere (in this movie specially) as well as other elements (music etc…) to do so).
The two main leads Ryuji and Reiko
The characters are really good and easy to root for even though if I had to pick my least favorite from the three main characters it would be really difficult, although I would say the small kid, Yoichi, because even if he is shown to be a mature kid for his age and his personality is supposedly a little different from a normal kid there are times when you clearly see that instead of his personality it is more his acting but Rikiya Ôtaka is not bad child actor, in fact he does act well in many scenes and he is not annoying although it is true that we don’t see him all that much because this is more his parents’ story.
Reiko is a good mother, even if she someday arrives late from her work and she leaves her kid alone sometimes, she shows that she loves her son to death and you don’t really feel like she neglects her kid too much, just administer her time better or hire a sitter for her kid (she does eventually leave him with his grandpa for a while, while she goes off trying to save his life. Nanako Matsushima does a really good job trying to portray this character and she is really believable, you really believe she is feeling what she is supposed to be feeling on each scene.
Finally Ryuji played by Hiroyuki Takayama. This character is introduced and you can’t help but feel at first that he is an asshole. That’s not true, he just has a lot on his plate. He possesses ESP (extra-sensory perception), he is mainly able to peek into a person’s mind and even sense spirits or more likely presences, he does feel Sadako a couple of time and notices she may be posing as Reiko’s niece to interact with Yoichi (they were mentioned to have had a good relationship although but the movie shows it too little since Yoichi’s reaction to his cousin dying isn’t what you would expect of a loving cousin, probably due to the kid’s personality probably not) who also has ESP although Ryuji doesn’t mention this interaction until after something bad comes out of said interaction, something I’ve already mentioned in this review. That ESP ability makes him feel a little awkward about himself and it’s probable that he has a complex about his abilities not being normal. In the end you clearly see through his actions that he cares about his family especially in the last couple of scenes (even though his relationship with his son is rather nonexistent in the first movie, their connection and relationship is explained in the Ring 2 movie, although in the alternative sequel Rasen, the relationship is different)
The rest of the cast and actors are not half bad, especially those who have to show fear who seem genuinely scared, the others do their parts really well. The protagonists of Ring 2 appear as cameos a couple of times although they don’t stand out too much, if I hadn’t already seen it I wouldn’t have noticed.
Now for the monster, or to be more precise the evil vengeful spirit. Sadako. Well here we only learn parts of her story and it is quite a story although we don’t learn it fully. Like Ryuji and Yoichi Sadako and her mom had ESPer abilities. Her mother was mentioned to spend many days “talking” to the Sea. After her mom correctly predicted a volcanic eruption, an expert from Tokyo seeking to prove the existence of ESP took her to the city. Sadako is at first thought to be the daughter of her mother and of that man but this is questioned by Ryuji by the end. It is revealed that after her mom’s death that man took her with him but ended up killing her. I must say that the character is really an interesting and epic villain which begins to developed in this movie.
I also like that her presence is felt all throughout the movie (which helps to build the tension) even if she appears only a few times and her most prominent appearance is at the end it just shows the quality of the movie plus when she does appear at the end the fact that the music, the tv showing the video when they supposedly shot the scene the way the character that’s going to be killed reacts to her appearing and her appearance itself form a very powerful and scary scene. Summarizing, you don’t see much of her but you know you want to run to your go crying to your mother screaming for her to protect you from the evil spirit.
So that was my review of the ring a movie that made me soil my pants… I mean that made me shi… I mean the movie I bravely sat through like the brave person I am. All joking aside this movie was once of the first J-horror movies I saw and I have to say having watched it today for this review I have to say I love it like the first day. It’s definitely a must a watch in the greatest quality possible (whatever you have to pay, as long as it within the normal prices to pay for watching or owning a movie). It is for these reasons that I award it with Five out of Five stars, it is more a 4.5/5 stars movie but since I tend to give just 1,2,3,4, or 5 stars to movies I think it’s more deserving of 5 than 4 stars , you can have some issues with it but for me they are easily forgiven.
Here is the cursed video, click… if you dare.