Cast: Nanako Matsushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rikiya Ōtaka
Synopsis: After watching a strange video, Japanese teenagers get a creepy telephone call alerting them to that fact that they will die in 7 days. 7 days later they pop their clogs, meet their maker, kick the bucket etc. It’s now up to a plucky reporter to solve the mystery of the tape AND accept responsibility for her child and shrug off her image as a selfish working mother (I think).
Why did I watch this high? Seriously, why? Sometimes I get these thoughts and I think: ‘yes, that sounds like a good idea’ but then it completely blows up in my face. Watching Ringu was one of those situations. Against all better judgment I decided to watch this movie alone, at night, whilst my mum was at her book club (a.k.a. the drunken mother bitch fest). I actually managed to make it all the way through without much trouble but it was what happened afterwards that put the fear of God in me. More on that in a little bit. First, let’s crack on with the review.
The movie manages to oscillate between extremely campy and absolutely terrifying. When the movie wants to be scary it certainly knows how to be. I mean, is there anything scarier than a silent, pale Asian child? At other times though, the movie borders on hammy. Examples of this would be the flashback/vision scenes, the weird Japanesey girly girl lesbianism in the opening scene, and one random scene where the lead male character walks into the room and there is this awkward silence where everyone has this soap opera dramatic suspicion look. However, these scenes actually manage to heighten the horror aspects of the film because they lull you into a false sense of security. You’re not expecting it to go so creepy so fast and then it does all of a sudden you’re wishing that you weren’t alone in the house.
The premise of this movie is brilliant but I started wondering what would happen if it were real. If this fucked up tape did actually exist then I’m sure some bright spark would have uploaded it to youtube by now and then everyone would have seen it and then everyone would have died. Essentially, Ringu acts as a potential prequel for every post-apocalyptic scenario….MIND. BLOWN. Also, I started to suspect that this movie actually has a deeper message; a warning to single working mothers. The main character is quite a bad mother. She cooks amazing breakfasts for herself and eats fancy dinners whilst her freaky child is forced to microwave his own meals. It’s a struggle for her to accept responsibility for her child and a lot of the dialogue between her and her ex-husband is focused on her laziness towards her child (‘you have to pick him up tomorrow!’). It’s almost as if she brought this all on herself because she failed to be a better and more traditional mother. The movie acts as a cautionary tale that shouts: mothers, look after your children or they’ll turn into sinister psychic fruitcakes. That in itself is quite scary.
Coming full circle, I’ll now tell you what scared the shit out of me. It wasn’t anything in the movie. After watching the movie (about 30 seconds after in fact) the phone started to ring. Cue the terrifying realization/paranoia that it could be a scary Asian ghost child on the line. I stood there warily staring at the phone for a few seconds, questioning whether or not I should answer it. I finally worked up the courage to pick up the receiver…turns out it was my sister. My nerves were wrecked. I could punch her.
- There are some genuinely terrifying and fucked up moments. The cuddling of an oozing skeleton being one of them.
- The flashbacks are really funny. The evil girl waddles around like some sort of constipated penguin.
- There are just enough Japanese WTF moments to keep it quirky and fresh without it wandering on over into insanity.
- Anyone grossed out by stuff happening to fingernails might want to give this a miss.
- Extreme paranoia can set in with this movie quite easily.
A must see for true horror fans and the brave of heart. Just one piece of advice: if you’re going to watch this high then make sure you’re with other people, with the lights on, and remember to unplug the fucking phone.