|Japans answer to Stephen King, Koji Suzuki, wrote Ring as a novel. Adapted by Hideo Nakata in 1998, the Japanese psycho-horror sensation set the box office alight over there yet took over two years to reach British screens. |
A mysterious video is circulating Japans teenagers. Myth has it that those who watch it immediately receive a phone call warning that they will die one week later. The film starts Scream-style with two Japanese teenagers alone in a house. They joke about the myth, and one lets on shes seen it. Whats more she received a phone call immediately afterwards, but believes it to be some sort of prank. And in the tradition of the best horror films, the girl who confidently fails to grasp the seriousness of the situation is the first to go.
Soon a reporter, Reiko Asakawa, becomes interested, and eventually gets hold of a copy. Again showing that classic disrespect for the myth, the single mother watches a copy only to receive the dreaded phone call afterwards. She now has a week to beat death, and tries to do so with the help of her ex-husband, mathematician Ryuji.
As a psycho-horror (or Saikoo Horaa in Japanese) the film works well, pulling its punches with plenty of tense moments. The back-story is suitably elaborate to keep you interested. Holding you on seat edge throughout is the fact that the deaths themselves are not shown only the build up, the look of pure terror in the eyes of the victims, and the aftermath where the victims face is frozen in a horrifyingly contorted pose that looks like a cross between Munsch and the Scream mask. Other touches - such as the photographs of people who have seen the video and are yet to die being distorted like gargoyles really add to the tension.
Elsewhere the film fell a little short the acting and script smacked of B-Movie, and anyone expecting to see Takeshi Kitano does Blair Witch will be disappointed. Nevertheless, its edgy stuff, and I came out compelled to see it the rest of the trillogy.
Dir: Hideo Nakata, Japan, 1998