Horror Movie Review: Ringu (1998)

Based on Koji Suzuki’s novel by the same name, this movie started a new trend of remakes of asian horrors, and also opened up for the popularity of asian horror on a world wide market. In a world wide market that relied heavily of gore and showing the scares, a movie where the unseeable was even more horrifying, really scared people a lot more than exploding heads and zombies had done for decades. It also made us fear our televisions and VHS movies for seven days after we saw them.

Reiko Asakawa is a reporter looking into a rumour of a cursed video, and as she travels around to interview people, her niece dies mysteriously at the same day as her friends that all had been rumored to have watched the video. As she starts looking into it for her sister, and at the same time coping with her life as a single, divorced mother, she starts finding out more than she should, and a curse that might have stopped with her niece, is unleashed once more as she finds the cursed tape in a cabin reception in Izu.

An eerie video with hints to the person behind it, and the horror that follows it as a phone call, and the knowledge that she has only 7 days to figure out how to stop the curse from consuming her like all the others. With the help of her estranged Ex-husband, they have to solve the messages of the tape before the curse takes them, and also their young son, that watched it by accident.

As I have read the book, I know that it is really, really different from the movies, and it sadly seems the american remake followed the japanese movie more than trying to do anything else with the book. I won’t spoil the movie, or the book too much, but the book did have a different lead, and a lot of different things according to the back story of everyones favorite little Sadako. The american remake is not the worst, but the second one was so horrible I have until now just wiped it off my mind. There is also two sequals to the japanese one. The second one is ok, and the last one, Ringu birthday, is actually closer to making me cry than to make me afraid. There is also a more unknown sequal, named Ransen, and a new one from 2012 in 3D, just named Sadako 3D that was horrible besides one horrifying idea for a monster.

If you are a fan of the book, there is actually a korean version of the Ring, that follows the book a little closer than the japanese movies, and if you look, I bet you can find it, it is called the Ring virus in english.

So, treat yourself to this asian horror movie, where the scares are not the use of blood, or overly horrible serial killers out to kill you, but the ancient human fear of the unknown. We do not know what is lurking in the darkness, we do not know who is on the other side of that phone, or what is coming closer and closer from the well each time the movie is shown. All we know, is that it will come for us, and no matter what, we will not be ready. Remember then, that when your television suddenly turns on again, do not unplugg it, because then it will only be more terrifying when it still turns on before you, and a woman with long black hair, and a long white dress looks back at you.

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*Shudder*Remakes*Shudder*

I look at myself as a person that can take anything, I love horror movies, and as long as there is a good story and things like that, I can even watch the worst B movies. I don’t scare easy anymore, and I love ghost movies with a facination, but there is one thing that still scares the shit out of me:

The bad american remakes!

When I first watched ‘the Ring’ I thought it was a good movie, since I didn’t know better. But after watching the original ‘Ringu’ I understood how much better it was, the story had a more eerie feeling to it, and I felt more facinated by it all. I quickly watched the second and third ‘Ringu’ movie, and it got even better, in the third movie, that is called ‘Ringu 0 – birthday’, you get to see how Sadako herself became one of the most feared ghosts in Japan. (I cheered for her, not the stupid people that were mean to her).

But another thing that bothers me with ‘the Ring’ is that they probably didn’t even read the book before they started, they just copied the japanese movie, they could have made their own version with the elements of the book, the truth about Sadako that even the japanese movies didn’t put in, or to set the right cast. (In the book, the lead character is male, and his wife is stupid enough to set on the movie for herself and their daughter.)

I am also quite pissed over the second american movie… (If you haven’t see it, don’t read past this) Why does the americans have to make a end where they can even find ways to get writh of ghosts? At least the japanese movies pointed out that humans can’t kill spirits, and isn’t the movies called Ring because it is never ending?

Then over to the next remake! Dark water… another of Koji Suzuki’s wonderful books (He is the author of the ‘Ringu’ books.) I watched the original long before the american version came, and it is a movie that makes me want to cry at times, and at the same time it is wonderfully creepy. And what did the americans do to it? They made it into a dramatic nightmare, not even the ghost seemed to have screen time here. It was just a horrible movie that didn’t even leave an expression.

Then we come to one movie that they acctually did right, I loved ‘the grudge’ and also how they managed to keep the Japanese feeling of it all. It was smart to film it in Japan, and to keep the old director =) even the ghosts are the same, Kayako and her little Bake-neko son. ‘Ju-on’ started as a mini series for TV, and since it was so well recieved, they made it into two Japanese movies. The america came and made two more, the first is a remake of the first japanese movie, but the second is a continuation that the japanese didn’t have, but I think it was ok, even with american actors you can still just look at it as another movie where Kayako kicks ass=)

I’m not done yet! Now we come to the movie ‘Kairo’ that had it’s american remake too, ‘Pulse’. The japanese version is set up so we follow two person’s stories, and they meet at the end and try to leave together. I don’t really remember how the american went… but I know that they rely to much on the scary monster effect, just like with Sadako (Or Samara…) they showed a grizzly face that had rottet… the japanese director knows that what you don’t see is scarier… like how Sadako always hides her face behind her hair, and all you can see is the creepy eye looking at you… In kairo you don’t see much of the ghosts, and you never really know where they came from. But in the american movie they made a lot of special effects to scare people, but they went to far away from the original concept, and I don’t think they had the same terrifying ending as the japanese.

Then we come to the end for now, as I am getting over my rage for a little while. (Only until they come with the remake of the scary chinese movie ‘the eye’.)

One missed call or Chakushin Ari, I am a fan of the movies and the TV serie that was made for it a little while ago (10 ep) But I just watched the american version… I wanted to cry… out of frustration. It didn’t even make any sense! People see ghosts all over the place when they have the call, why the hell do they do that? They should just see Mimiko or her mother… and the call tone is to dead, it didn’t even frighten me, at least the old one made me remember it!

I could go on forever, but instead I will stop here, and wait with fear for the remake of the eye, and the dreaded American movie version of the ‘fatal frame’ games…