Ringu – Review


with Nanako Matsushima, Miki Nakatani, Yûko Takeuchi
Directed by Hideo Nakata
Written by Hiroshi Takahashi, Kôji Suzuki
by Chad Van Wagner

Dreamworks has (Thank God!) chosen to release Ringu, the buzz-heavy Japanese horror film from director Hideo Nakata, in conjunction with the DVD of the American remake by Gore Verbinski, known as The Ring. This is not only fortuitous for film geeks who’ve been trying to get Ringu in non-bootleg form for years, it emphasizes an example of one of the very few times that Hollywood remakes something right.

The plots, of course, are identical: A reporter discovers a video tape that causes those who watch it to die in exactly one week. What’s striking about the films is that, even though the initial mystery of the tape is cleared up about halfway through the film, that solution leads to another mystery: Okay, we know what it is. But why? And now what do we do about it?

Unlike most remakes/remodels, watching one actually enhances the experience of watching the other. Each offers deeply unsettling scenes that the other does not, and without blood. No graphic violence here, and not because it was sliced away, like the abysmal House Of 1000 Corpses. No, both Nakata and Verbinski play the atmosphere card for all its worth, taking the creepy little girl thing to places you didn’t think it could go. Although I’ve seen Ringu probably (no lie) fifty times, the final confrontation still gives me goosebumps. And even though I was intimately familiar with the original when I saw The Ring, I still found myself holding my breath and wondering, if not where it was going to go, how Verbinski was going to take us there.

Enjoy this finally-done-right remake while you can. Next comes the Tom Cruise produced remake of the excellent Chinese shocker The Eye, and Wes Craven’s (oh, no) remake of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s mysterious and breathtaking Pulse (the latter of which will be like LeRoy Neiman redoing Munch’s The Scream).