I may be the only person in the world who missed the initial J-horror band wagon when it first rolled through town, but what better way to make up for lost time than by watching the most well-known of the Japanese horror movies. Based on the novel Ring by Koji Suzuki, this film completely reworks the world created in the novel, creating a final product that is every bit as thrilling as the novel in a completely different way.
Reiko Asakawa is reporting on the latest urban legend, a mysterious video tape that will kill the viewer in seven days. The case hits close to home when Reiko’s niece, Tomoko, dies suddenly with no explanation. After doing some sleuthing at Tomoko’s funeral, Reiko realizes that Tomoko must have viewed the tape, and she sets out to retrace her niece’s steps to find the source of this ghost story. When Reiko watches the tape, she finds herself in over her head, and enlists the help of her ex-husband Ryuji, who is no stranger to the supernatural. It is a race against time for both of them, and they only have seven days to find a cure for the curse.
The film and the book share a couple of key elements, but the film diverges drastically from the book. The novel’s protagonist, Kazuyuki, a troubled family man, becomes Reiko, an intrepid single mother, who may or may not be neglecting her son in favor of her career. The ‘sidekick’ Ryuji, was a depraved degenerate in the novel, but in the films he is a brooding anti-hero with latent physic abilities. Both of these characters are acted wonderfully. Reiko displays the nervous verve of a woman of action who is facing her own death, and Ryuji is simultaneously charming, rude, and controlling, so the viewer understands why Reiko married him, as well as why she left him. Their interactions are peppered with an awkward remorseful affection, that plays second fiddle to their desire to remedy themselves of the curse that has them in its cross-hairs.
As for the horror aspects, Ring is pretty light on the scares. The film relies on the tense atmosphere to make the viewer feel uneasy, and this tactic works incredibly well. The supernatural elements of the film are very different from the ones in the novel; this movie tells a classic ghost story, complete with a terrifying specter. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend you try this film out.