Day 25: Ringu (1998)

Charles 2016, 31 Days of Horror, Part 4, Reviews Leave a Comment

It’s Day 25 of 31 Days of Horror and is it just me, or has this year really flown by? I seriously can’t believe Halloween is already less than a week away!!
Today we’re talking about Ringu, which is the Japanese movie that was remade into The Ring. These films have nearly identical plot points and key scenes, but this is the rare occasion where I actually STRONGLY prefer the remake, and it’s mostly due to the small changes made, as well as a key few differences in style. As such, I’ll be (sort of) reviewing them together.
Both movies are about a mysterious VHS tape that contains a creepy, surreal video of unknown origins. The story goes that if you watch it, you will get a phone call telling you that you have 7 days to live. And it appears that the people who have received that call actually do die a week later in horrific, unexplainable ways. A reporter investigating the story watches the tape for herself, and then brings along her ex-husband to help her solve the mystery of it before her time runs out.
Maybe that doesn’t sound all that scary to you, but here’s that video from Ringu (and The Ring’s version as well, just for comparison):

To this day, I still feel guilty showing people that video. I feel like I’m sentencing them to their death or something.
Anyway, I should tell you right off the bat that the American version scared the crap out of me the first time I watched it (which, by the way, was long before I saw the Japanese one). My friends knew I was particularly freaked out, and so waited until the middle of the night to call me and say, “7 DAYS!!” when I answered groggily. Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep much that night and actually turned my tube T.V. away from me. True story. Pathetic, but true.
I digress (I do that a lot). Where was I?
Oh, yeah.
I love both movies for the mystery that unravels as you watch them. They’re both great detective stories that happens to feature terrifying images, but still a mystery at their core none-the-less. And they both do a great job of keep you on the edge of your seat with constant reminders of what day it is and how long the characters have to live. What I happen to like more about the American version is that they don’t shy away from showing what happens after those 7 days are up. The Japanese version more or less goes black-and-white and freeze frames during these supernatural moments, but the American shows you so much more. It’s a much better effect, and has a lasting impact.
I also strongly prefer the ferry scene in the American one, where we see a horse jump off the ferry and turn the waters red. I can’t get that image out of my head nearly 15 years later, and probably never will.
And finally, the differences in the characters bugs me. In Ringu, it seems both main characters can read the thoughts of others and see into their past. It’s not really explained too terribly well, and seems like a gimmicky, cheap way to throw in some exposition via flashbacks. The Ring doesn’t even have a hint of that and is all the better for it. I also don’t understand the characters’ reactions in Ringu when they’re in the well at the end, because neither one of them seem too terribly frightened or grossed out to be in the murky water with a corpse; in fact, it’s downright cheesy in this scene when the corpse is finally found.
So, honestly, for all of these reasons, I would say skip Ringu and go straight for The Ring. It’s one of the best horror films ever made, even if the technology in it is dated (I seriously don’t know anyone that owns a VCR anymore). Also, stay away from The Ring Two (which, interestingly enough, was directed by Ringu’s director, Hideo Nakata).
Oh, and there’s a new Ring movie coming out next year that looks pretty scary, too.
Tomorrow is Day 26, and I’ll be back with 28 Days Later. Hope to see you soon!!

CharlesDay 25: Ringu (1998)

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