Horror
Ring (Ringu)
.
Dir: Hideo Nakada
Star: Nanako Matsushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Daisuke Ban, Rikiya Otaka
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 1998
Format: DVD R0
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Whilst investigating rumours about a "video curse" which mysteriously kills anyone that sees the video 7 days after watching it and is rapidly becoming an urban myth. Cynical television reporter Reiko (Nanako Matsushima) follows a trail of horrifically contorted corpses all of whom are the apparent victims of this "curse" only to discover that one the latest victims is none other than her young neice Tomoko. Pieceing together Tomoko's last movements, Reiko travels to a popular holiday camp where Tomoko stayed 7 days earlier with her friends (all of whom are now also dead). Unforseen forces insidiously guide the fickle finger of fate toward Reiko as unable to control her curiosity she "finds" the strange video and watches it. Immediately after stopping the tape she notices a strange reflection in the television screen just as the phone rings. The telephone call indicates that she now has 7 days before she will die. Frantic, Reiko turns to her ex-husband Ryuji (Hiroyuki Sanada) for help. With the help of Ryuji (a college professor and psychic) Reiko learns some of the dark history behind the video but their young son Yoichi (Rikiya Otaka) has also seen the video so will it be sufficient to save them all from a terrifying demise.........?

This film didn't make it to the UK until it premiered along with it's sequel Ring 2 at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2000 to packed audiences and elated critics who heralded the arrival of a new breed of international horror movie. For many, Ring remains an undiscovered modern classic but word spreads and more and more audiences are slowly discovering the fresh and innovative piece of international cineman that is Ring. Regarded by many as the most unsettling film since The Exorcist this is a very tense and disturbing movie. Whilst Hollywood was raving about a group of students lost in the woods with their video cameras whilst looking for the Blair Witch (Tony's wife?). Japan was successfully dishing out what was ultimately to be one of the most critically acclaimed and truly terrifying films in modern movie history.

Ring is based on the bestselling novel by Kji Suzuki and combined with the marvellous direction of Hideo Nakada the film seems to do the book justice and successfully relates a terrifying modern horror tale. The story is essentially aimed at the mature sensibilities of an adult audience and preys In addition to giving the Japanese a popular new horror character in the stooped form of the long haired Sadako. Ring has become Japan's most successful horror film to date and has spawned a sequel, a prequel, and so much merchandising that it could have been done by George Lucas.

Ring is low on gore and has little in the way of special effects but what effects it does have are very well used and don't govern the story (Common mistake that American cinema keeps on making). The overrall direction by Nakada is both impressive and stylish and in places is similar in style to Dario Argento and/or David Cronenberg but this fuses well with his own style and affords the film a far more oppressive and sinister feel. The film has moments of pure silence which builds a unique atmosphere housing such an unnatural presence which manages to reach out and touch every nerve in your body, filling the viewer with utter dread. The image of Sadako crawling and clawing out of the television set really gives you something to scream about as the balletic awfullness of the ghastly, jerky and faceless form of Sadako causes a sphincter twitching frenzy (clean under garments required). Such a relatively simple scene with very basic special effects manages to outdo anything similar in Poltergeist and is a fine example of good photography and direction. A good cast provide some sterling performances, including Rikiya Otaka as Yoichi. Nanako Matsushima is superb as Reiko and provides a truly harrowing performance.

To say that Ring is spine-chilling is an gross understatement as the purely evil essence contained within the film is creepy and genuinely scary. Now that the film is available for the small screen it's horror takes on a whole new level. With it's central televisual element Ring becomes all the more terrifying as an ultimate home horror experience. Even more disturbing when viewed in the uneasy comfort of your living room as Ring's raw power and terror are unleashed and make you really sit up and take notice, right before you leap behind the sofa to hide. This is a very scary film that you will not forget and do not want to watch alone!.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Glitz's say:

There is no doubting that Ring is an orginal blend of horror, a sort of cross between Videodrome and the Omen, and it almost works. The lack of gore or CG effects is admirable, and the story is a nice mix of modern technology and local folklore. Overall an impressive attempt at doing something inventive with a genre that is bogged down with teenage slasher films.

I did say almost works, yes there is a couple of problems. The first of which is that is that at many points in the film opertunities are missed to build up the tension. The death scenes ( shown as a glorious flashed negative shot. Pretty much like a Dalek attack from the Dr Who television series) just aren't that effective, and they are not given enough screen time. Without dire consequnses what follows really can't be a scary as it should be (check out the Omen to see how this shuld be done properly). This is just one example of a number of missed opertunities that would have turned this film from interesting to unnerving.

The other problem is the fact that the major characters are imbued with psychic abilities (although not common sense, as when they are given a tape which when you watch it you die, the first thing they do is watch it). This means that many sections are show as visions which becomes a little confusing. It also alienates the audience as they can no longer identify as much with the characters. This is a shame as the psychic element is unnescessary to process the plot, and ghostly visions would have been more effective.

Ok so these are minor quibles, but it does mean that Ring while very good is never excellent. Inventive, clever and well shot this film is really worth looking out for. However you are more likely to be highly entertained rather than scared witless.

Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD
Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic Generally sharp image
Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo soundtrack, prone to hissing
Features Star & Director filmographies
Creepy semi-animated menus
Original Trailer gallery featuring; "Ring", "Ring 2" and "Audition"
Stills gallery
Movie review & film notes by Mark Kermode (self proclaimed movie expert from BBC Radio 1)
Freaky option to watch "Sadako's video" (After watching the film you may want to pass)
Series of static press quotes, regarding the film.
Verdict Not a particuarly impressive disc for such a cool film. The film also has the dreaded burned on subtitles!.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Link Back Top Home