For all intents and purposes, Ringu is a very simplistic movie. The protagonist, Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima), is investigating a video curse that apparently results in the death of whoever watches the film. Once watched, the phone rings and tells the person that they have seven days to live. True to form, seven days later the person will be dead and frozen in a rigid form expressing extreme fear. The core idea is very simple: a video that is cursed and results in death. After some intense investigating, Asakawa and her ex-husband, Ryuji, realize they may need to hunt down different images that are seen in the film. The results of their investigation are both good and bad.
One of the best things about this film is the sound. Clanks, static, and dings are voiced throughout the film and constantly keep the viewer on edge. Sudden sounds keep a viewer on their toes, especially when they have to stare at the bottom of the screen to read the subtitles. This movie also relies heavily on suspense. In fact, the whole movie is really one slow build up to the end, which may leave the viewer either satisfied or wishing they didn’t have to sit through the first hour and twenty minutes just to see 15 minutes of really scary stuff.
So the major question on everyone’s mind is whether or not Ringu is scary. In order to gauge that, we have to take into count the reputation this movie has. Due to its American remake and the constant blabber of pre-pubescent children saying The Ring is the scariest movie ever, you are more than likely going to go into this movie expecting more than it offers. Along with its reputation, the viewer may feel like they could have gone so much farther with Ringu. If you are expecting a solid helping of nightmarish images of a longhaired girl crawling on the ceiling or stairs a la The Exorcist, then you are going to be disappointed. We do have to give the villain, Sadako, a bit more credit. Children are naturally scary and when you have one that crawls, scratches, and limps its way around with just a long black coat of hair, then you are going to be freaked out. Still, you can’t help but feel like this movie just missed that “it” factor.
It may be the bloated reputation, prolonged climax, or something else, but Ringu is simply average. J-Horror fans will appreciate its significance and the importance this movie puts on curses, which are more prevalent in Japanese horror than American horror, but I can think of many other Japanese horrors that blow this one out of the water. Sadako may be a world-class horror ghost, but she doesn’t add a ton to horror. It seems as if this little girl is going to have trouble crawling and limping away from the other individuals on horror island.
If you liked Ringu, you might also like Ju-On: The Grudge and A Tale of Two Sisters.