Ringu Movie Review
Last year, The Ring impressed audiences in the United States and abroad with its creepy though ultimately question-raising story about a videotape that kills whoever watches it exactly seven days later. Many of those who saw the U.S. version have heard of the original 1998 Japanese version, Ringu, but many fewer have seen it. Ringu raises many of the same questions that The Ring did, but adds one more: Why make The Ring in the first place?
Ringu, of course, is about a reporter who hears about a videotape that supposedly kills whoever watches it seven days later. At first it seems like just another ghost story, but after seeing it herself she begins to suspect that the myth is not just a myth. She and her ex-husband proceed to attempt to discover the secrets of the video before her week is up.
Only two weeks ago I watched Open Your Eyes, the original Spanish version of Tom Cruise's Vanilla Sky. On its own, Vanilla Sky was a decent and intriguing movie, but after watching the original, I had to ask myself why on earth it was ever made. After all, Vanilla Sky was a scene-by-scene remake of Open Your Eyes, and even had the same actress (Penelope Cruz) as the same character.
The phenomenon of remakes that has emerged in recent years, where studios, neglecting the hundreds of thousands of original stories that are just waiting to be created, try to make some quick money by modernizing perfectly good movies, is controversial at best. I have enjoyed many of the remakes of late, but at the same time feel as though they are hardly necessary - why remake a movie that is already good?
Even more disturbing is the fact that studios are now starting to remake foreign films with English actors, even though the original film is only a couple years old. Such controversy lies in Ringu and The Ring. The Ring is good on its own, but did it really need to be made, considering that there is another completely modern movie that has only one "flaw" - it is in another language?
The first hour of Ringu and The Ring are fairly identical, with many scenes that are almost complete duplicates. It is almost disturbing how close these two movies are. The two films only separate slightly near the end, where they differ in complexity and gore.
Ringu explains things just a little better than The Ring, though it still leaves many of the same questions unanswered (such as why is this girl so damn evil, and how was the videotape made in the first place). However, it might explain things a little better because it seems simpler. It has far fewer subplots and imagery tricks than The Ring, which may or may not be good. Personally, it felt as though Ringu was too simple at times; the characters, both "suffering" from ESP for some unexplained reason, figure things out very quickly and without explanation.
Nevertheless, the stories are still very similar (well, almost identical), but the biggest, and most surprising difference, was the scariness of the movies. At the time that The Ring came out, there were lots of mumblings about Ringu being one of the freakiest movies of all time. This just isn't true. In fact, Ringu isn't nearly as scary as The Ring. There are so many moments where the camera and music suggest that something is going to jump out or reveal itself, yet the director does very little with the suspense that he has created. There are still many creepy parts, but Ringu could have easily been much scarier.
One thing going in Ringu's favor, however, is the last minute of the film. While The Ring sets up the ending and the final murder much better (where the little boy tells Naomi Watts that she screwed up), Ringu, believe it or not, has a slightly darker finish. Unless I just forgot how The Ring ends, Ringu goes just a little farther in suggesting what will happen next, and it is very effective.
The Ring is slightly better in many aspects - it is slightly scarier, slightly more complicated, and more visually intriguing - however, it is not so much better to warrant a remake. Ringu is a good movie; aside from box office revenue, there is no reason why this movie should not have been translated to American audiences with the original Japanese actors and so forth. This remaking of modern day foreign films is a scary trend; Ringu is too good to warrant a remake, even if the remake is a little better.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.