Sunday, October 11, 2015

Film Review: Ringu (1998)

Ringu (Review)
Japan/1998
Format Viewed For Review: DVD
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"The film excels in creating a haunting experience."

Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima), a TV reporter, investigates a string of mysterious deaths linked to a cursed video tape...
 
Ringu follows single mother and reporter Reiko Asakawa. After the mysterious death of her niece, Tomoko, Asakawa finds her death may be related to a cursed video tape. The tape is said to harbor a curse that kills its viewer seven days after watching it. So, Asakawa decides to track the tape and watch it. Soon after watching, Asakawa receives a phone call warning her of her looming death. Asakawa enlists the help of her ex-husband, Ryuji Takayama (Hiroyuki Sanada) a professor and psychic. Together, they race to find the origin of the tape and stop the curse. The film leads to a haunting ending – it's iconic for a reason.

 Ringu is a great supernatural/technology horror film. Although technically outdated due to the demise of video tapes, Ringu still delivers a unique and frightening story to this day – a story that resonates throughout time thanks to its timeless themes. As far as the plot goes, I only wish it clarified a few of its ideas, such as the psychic abilities of certain characters. As for its horror, the film delivers plenty of frights. Ringu utilizes a spooky atmosphere, a few jolting jump-scares, and some nightmarish visuals to conjure its horror. The film's slow-burn pace also adds some very tense moments. On that some point, though, the film can be a bit too slow at times, leading to a few dull moments here and there.

The acting was good. Nanako Matsushima is a great leading lady and Hiroyuki Sanada offers a strong supporting performance. There are only a few moments where the melodramatics felt out of place. The film is shot very well, painting some truly haunting and sorrowful images through the cinematography. The music is very eerie and effective, which adds to the very spooky ambiance. Director Hideo Nakata crafts a slow-burning horror film with finesse. Every frame is filled with grizzly detail and every scene has an impact. There are a few efficiency issues here and there, but it is otherwise well crafted thanks to the direction.

Overall, Ringu is a great film. It may feel outdated due to its central use of a video tape, but its themes still speak volumes about society and technology. Even without its themes, it's still a very creative and frightening plot. The film excels in creating a haunting experience. It is occasionally hindered by its slow-pacing, but the pace is more often effective than inefficient. If you haven't watched it yet, I strongly recommend it. If you aren't fond of subtitles, I actually thought the American remake, The Ring, was a very suitable replacement. Regardless, you should watch a version of this film.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and disturbing images.

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