After a number of mysterious deaths in Tokyo, journalist Reiko prompted by the strange death of her cousin decides to investigate. At first she discounts the wild rumours of a cursed videotape that via a phone call starts a seven day countdown to death for all who’ve unwittingly watched It, until she learns her cousin & best friend who saw the tape, both died at the same time!
Visiting one of the other victims parents, Reiko learns from the dead girl’s mother she’d been on vacation with friends & seven days later they were all dead. Finding a Polaroid in the girl’s bedroom, taken shortly before their deaths, Reiko notices their faces are distorted yet the rest of the pic is crystal clear.
After tracking down the holiday cabin the teenagers had stayed in, she watches the video containing a lady combing her hair in a mirror & various strange images. Disappointed the tape gives her no answers she stops by her ex-husbands house & asks him to take her picture, as it develops they notice her face is totally distorted…Thus the nightmare begins for Reiko & her family.
We’re talking Mpeg blocking artefacts in many scenes, I’d even go as far in saying a VHS tape would look better, but as It’s the easiest way to see this gem I can forgive the poor encoding. The stereo sound was surprisingly effective when put through Dolby pro logic, containing many unsettling rear speaker sounds & a strong stereo separation.
Lovers of intelligent, atmospheric, doom laden horror stories will find much to admire here, director Nakata gradually builds the tension cleverly mixing the past & present to the final jaw dropping shock without a drop of blood. I fear most people preconditioned with American style movies (i.e. fast pacing, FX set pieces & bombastic soundtracks) will wonder what all the fuss is about. In fact I can’t remember the last time I was creeped out so badly in my own home!
Based on the best-selling novel by Koji Suzuki (Japan’s answer to Stephen King) & winner of the Golden Raven award at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy ’99. THE RING opened April ’99 in Hong Kong, obliterating every American movie at the HK box office & became a huge cult phenomenon.
Smelling a franchise in the making, The producers rushed Director Hideo Nakata into producing THE RING 2, which opened June 10th that same year, but wasn’t quite the mega hit they expected. Only now are reports filtering back that the sequel is nowhere near as stunning nor as frightening as the first. Nakata wisely declined to direct THE RING 0 (a prequel?) which is currently awaiting a HK release (Spring 2000).
With no sign of a UK distributor, both the VCD & 5:1, 16x9 extra’s packed DVD noticeably absent of English subs & those of you unaccustomed to Asian cinema, your best bet is to catch a subtitled film festival print.
Reviewed by Simon Caleb on a multi-region Pioneer DV505 & Sherwood R925 DD amp.
|Directed by Hideo Nakata|
|Released by Ocean Shores Group|
|Chinese VCD x 2 - Category 2A|
|Ratio - Widescreen (about 1:70:1)|
|Audio - Hi Fi stereo, Japanese dialogue with Chinese subtitles|
|Running time - 98min|
|Extras - 7 small stickers featuring Sadako|