Due to the surprising success of my initial Movies Project, I decided to do a part two for 2012. This time around I put a greater emphasis on directors I am not familiar with, but I also tried to compile a mix of different genres and eras. This will be an ongoing project with the finish date being sometime this year.
Director: Hideo Nakata
Starring: Nanako Matsushima, Miki Nakatani and Yûko Takeuchi
Runtime: 96 minutes
My experience with Japanese horror movies is very, very limited. In fact, I can only remember seeing Audition, and that was many years ago. When I initially compiled my 50 movies project, it was suggested that I include something from the genre. As the highest grossing horror film in Japan, Ringu seemed like an obvious starting point.
Those who have seen the 2002 American remake, The Ring, are likely familiar with the premise. A group of teenagers have discovered a cursed videotape that will kill its viewers seven days after watching. A reporter, Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima), starts a personal investigation of this matter after it is rumored that her niece and a few friends died from the curse. Eventually she discovers the tape herself, watches it and then frantically has to find a way to reverse the process and stay alive. She gains help from her ex-husband Ryuji Takayama (Hiroyuki Sanada), but can they solve the mystery in time?
By now, more than a decade later, the film’s more memorable moments have been ingrained into the pop culture canon. The creepy little girl with long black hair, the bizarre content on the videotape, the sudden appearance of a large eyeball — anyone with half a pulse will recognize these. The common perception, with these idiosyncracies in mind, is that Ringu is scary as hell. I was expecting to *finally* be scared by a movie, something that has never happened to me. Alas, I was surprised to learn that Ringu is more of a mystery film than anything.
Sure, the suspense is riveting and the atmosphere creepy, but there was never a moment where I became frightened. The eyeball was alarming, but that was more peculiar than anything. Taken as a horror film, this is a little disappointing. As a mystery, however, this is more intriguing.
Even though I knew what to expect from most of the film, I was generally interested throughout. The slow build creates subtle tension, and while it has its more convoluted moments, the culmination into an epic 10-minute frenzy at the end is unforgettable. For some, though, I imagine this payoff is too little, too late.
Ringu is a good, solid film, but I feel that it has lost some of its flair over the years. The mystery story is well-crafted and the performances are strong, but it is mostly forgettable outside of a few select moments. That being said, I am definitely interested in seeing more of the genre.
Now I’m ready to revisit The Ring. What do you guys prefer? Ringu or The Ring?