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Ring, The

Japan (1998), 96 minutes
Starring: Nanako Matsushima, Mike Nakatana, Yuko Takeuchi, Hitomi Sato
Reviewer: Val Frost
Genre: Horror
Rating: 4.5

So here it is folks, my “thing”” is Chinese movies; I leave everything else to someone else, but, after seeing this flick, I felt the need to write my two piddley cents on it; especially in light of the American remake fast approaching. So here ya… are…

A weird videotape is going around. On it is a creepy chick and some other random images. After you see it, you get a strange phone call, and in exactly one week, ya keel over, dead.

Reiko (Matsushima), a journalist, decides to investigate after a relative dies from the supposedly cursed tape. She locates it, watches it, and then recruits her ex-husband, Ryuji, to help her research the mystery behind the tape before her week is over. Do they find the mystery behind the tape? Does Reiko bite it when her week is up? Do you really think I am going to tell you?

The film is a bit slow placed, even at 96 minutes, but always held my interest. The better portion of the film is the mystery behind the tape. Who made the tape? Why? What does it mean? The videotape itself is freaky. Fuzzy images of a forest, bodies moving (crawling?) on the ground and Kanji (Japanese characters) make Reiko and Ryuji –— and the viewer — ask themselves, err, what in the hell is this all about? The sound effects too – screeching violins and a low humming –intensify the feeling of dread around the videotape.

There are a couple holes in the plot, and a few things we just take as a given. Both Reiko and Ryuji both have a bit of psychic ability — how convenient in a ghost story. And Reiko was interested in the story of the video before she knew that her relative had seen the tape. But these can be forgiven since they push the story forward in some way.

Now, how to wrap up this review? Up until now, the film sounds just like a creepy flick, right, but is there more? What is it about this film that makes it so well known as to warrant a fancy-pants American remake? All I will say is that there is more — just enough to make one gasp; just enough to make one lie awake at night staring into the dark; just enough to make one push the TV set out of the bedroom… You know those nightmares we all have once in a while; the kind that make no sense whatsoever, but haunt us all the same? That, my friends is The Ring. Happy viewing!