Ringu (Japan, 1998, 96 mins.): Drawing inspiration from the onryou, or ‘avenging spirit’ motif, Nakata Hideo’s Ringu tells the story of a videotape that causes death to all those who watch it. Following the death of a group of teenagers, newspaper reporter Reiko investigates the mystery behind the tape. During the course of her investigation, Reiko, her son, and her ex-boyfriend all watch the tape and receive ominous phone calls predicting their demise. In a frantic race to save herself and her loved ones, Reiko must solve the mystery behind the video’s secret. What she uncovers is a nightmare involving abuse, murder, and a deadly spirit named Sadako. Ringu explores issues such as the affinity between adolescence and horror, femininity and horror, and technology and horror. In addition to inspiring a highly successful remake, as well as the birth of the American film industry’s fascination with Asian horror cinema, Ringu is a brilliant example of Japanese filmmaking at its finest: the creation of terror through subtlety, rather than shock and violence. Perhaps the most horrifying aspect of Nakata’s film is how it infiltrates the safe confines of the viewer’s living space. Viewers no longer have the ability to lock their doors and seek protection within their homes. Rather, the horror in Ringu breaks down the barrier separating safety from danger, through the family television.
Synopsis by Joshua Cohen