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Ringu (1998)

Ring

one of the most effective horror flicks I can ever recall seeing

Directed by:

Hideo Nakata

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 96 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: Japan

Japanese finger-trembler ‘Ring’ is often described as vastly superior to ‘The Ring’, its remade American version from 2002. Personally, I’d have to call it a dead heat between the pair of them, with both movies inflicting the frighteners in different ways, despite basically sticking to the same lines.

Hideo Nakata’s original, it’s name changed here from ‘Ringu’ (presumably to avoid confusion with the penguin), introduces the technology-driven terror of a video even more horrifying than ‘Police Academy: Mission to Moscow’ on VHS. Whoever watches the vid (we’re left to assume it hasn’t been released yet on DVD) receives a creepy phonecall telling them they’ll snuff it in seven day’s time. Someone really should think about getting those calls traced by the phone company.

One such viewer is journalist Reiko (Nanako Matsushima), who soon sets about recruiting ex-hubby Ryuji (Hiroyuki Sanada) in attempting to track down the source of the spine-tingling tape before her deadline expires – literally. To make matters worse, she’s got an ankle-biter called Yoichi (Rikiya Otaka) who also decides to watch the deadly video. The little fool! Couldn’t he just stick to ‘Barney’ like all the other kids?

Though completely gore-free and also containing very few real shocks, this is quite possibly as scary a film as you’ll see. That’s thanks mainly to some convincing acting, fantastic application of dark atmospherics, and a sparingly-used but hugely effective soundtrack. Those who watch Gore Verbinski’s remake first will be disappointed the horse scene – one of the most memorable features of the US version – isn’t in this one. Verbinski’s version also has a more interesting background story and doesn’t rely as heavily on everyone apparently having ESP in order to move logically from one stage to the next.

Regardless, this is one of the most effective horror flicks I can ever recall seeing, with a fantastically foreboding ending (note the similarities between the final shot in this and in The Terminator) which leaves it looming large in the memory long after you’ve pushed the stop button.

It's Got: A ghostly apparition in desperate need of a manicure.

It Needs: More prominent subtitles – the white text is often virtually impossible to read against the lighter backgrounds.

DVD Extras The full version of that pesky videotape, a full film critique by Mark Kermode, cast and crew filmographies, a stills gallery and some back-slapping press quotes. DVD Extras Rating: 5/10

Alternatives:

Poltergeist, Ring 2, The Ring

Summary

A marvellously made horror that's guaranteed to give you the willies. Watch it with the phone off the hook!

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