top of page
  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

Ringu 1998 Reviewed

Featured Image For Ringu 1998 Reviewed. A haunting Japanese movie poster with a ghostly face emerging from a dark well encircled by red.
Whispers from the depths, a curse that binds with a glance.

There's a chill in the room, a whisper on the edge of your hearing that insists you're not alone. And maybe you aren't. Maybe some spectral voyeur has crawled from the depths of your TV screen, their gaze heavy on your back. Maybe it's just a trick of the light, a draft, a creaking floorboard. Or maybe it's something pulled from the dark heart of Ringu.

Ringu 1998 Key Takeaways

  • Technology as a Conduit for Terror: The film challenges the idea that technology connects us. Television, phones – tools of modern life – become the vehicles for an ancient, unknowable curse. It plays on our innate fear of the unknown lurking within the familiar.

  • The Unseen is Scarier: Ringu doesn't rely on gore or overt monstrous displays. True terror lies in suggestion, half-glimpsed figures, noises that might be nothing...or might be everything. It forces the viewer's imagination to fill in the blanks, making the horror personal.

  • The Legacy of Trauma: The film subtly hints at the unresolved trauma underlying the curse. Sadako – the vengeful spirit – embodies both victim and monster, blurring the lines between justified anger and malevolent force.

  • Ambiguity Breeds Unease: Unlike Western horror traditions, Ringu doesn't offer a neat solution or a defeated monster. The ending is open-ended, the curse lingers like a whisper on the wind. That lack of closure creates the lasting sense of disquiet.

  • Atmosphere as Weapon: The film's muted colours, unsettling silence, and slow-burn pacing build a relentless sense of dread. It's the creeping certainty that something is coming for you, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Woman with a terrified expression watches Ringu (1998).
The phone will ring, and the terror will crawl out of the screen.

This isn't brash, in-your-face horror with gallons of gore and cheap jump scares. This is the insidious horror that slithers into your subconscious, leaving you forever casting nervous glances at staticky TV screens and ringing telephones. Ringu is where the J-horror boom started, where the ghost in the well became an icon, and where the idea of a cursed videotape birthed an entire urban legend.

The premise is deceptively simple. Journalist Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) finds herself entangled in an escalating mystery following the death of her teenage niece. Tomoko and her friends supposedly died of fright after viewing a cursed videotape, filled with nightmarish imagery of warped faces and dripping wells. Unnerved but driven, Reiko digs deeper, seeking the truth behind the urban legend. Yet her investigation is a gamble; the legend states anyone who watches the tape will die in seven days.

Ringu is a masterclass in atmospheric dread, crafted by director Hideo Nakata. It toys with expectations masterfully. The scares aren't loud; they’re the unsettling stillness, the moments where you hold your breath, and the silence crackles with malevolent potential. Think less bloody spectacle and more of that chilling feeling of being observed from the periphery of your vision.

The imagery Nakata conjures burns itself into the mind. The grainy, monochromatic cursed videotape itself, all fractured images and jarring editing, is a work of disturbing genius. He plays with familiar objects, warping them into sources of terror – a comb slithers with unnatural fluidity, a fly buzzes ominously from inside a television set, even the simple act of peering into a well becomes charged with a sense of terrible anticipation.

Man watches Ringu (1998), his face frozen in terror.
The static on the screen sounds a lot like whispers now.

A Japanese Terror That Everyone Should Experience

Nakata's brilliance lies in turning the mundane into the menacing. The film's central curse is a brilliant subversion – technology, ostensibly meant to connect us, becomes the vector for an isolating, inescapable doom. That image of a white-clad figure with lank, black hair crawling spider-like from a television screen… that's not something easily forgotten.

Reiko's quest forms the backbone of the film. Matsushima plays her with a taut intensity, a sharp-minded woman whose journalistic drive turns into desperation in the face of the supernatural. Her ex-husband, Ryuji (Hiroyuki Sanada), provides a skeptical counterpoint, grounding the story in a touch of relatable disbelief as they race against the clock.

Ringu isn't just a horror film; it's an experience. It lingers long after the credits roll, leaving questions swirling even as a primal shiver runs up your spine. The ending is ambiguous, the curse unresolved, leaving a lingering disquiet that no amount of rational thought can soothe. Western horror often aims to conquer the monster, but Ringu offers a far more unsettling message – some evils can't be fought. They can only be outrun, for a time.

Of course, this spawned a franchise, and a hit American remake that upped the ante on overt scares. Yet neither quite hits the chilling mark of the original. Ringu is Japanese horror at its finest, a film that understands the true essence of fear isn't what you see, but what you can't, what your mind fills in within the shadows. Is it any surprise that a film focused on the unseen power of a viral curse resonates perhaps even more deeply in an age of viral videos and lurking internet terrors?

And that is Ringu 1998 Reviewed. Another International horror movie destined to be a classic. 

Stay tuned for more horror movie reviews.

If You Liked Ringu 1998 You Might Also Like These Films

  • Pulse (Kairo) (2001): Another masterpiece of Japanese horror, Pulse explores themes of isolation, technology, and ghostly figures invading the real world. The film follows a group of people as they confront a strange phenomenon where spirits begin to haunt the internet, leading to a breakdown of reality.

  • Ju-On: The Grudge (2002): This classic J-horror film focuses on a haunted house and a vengeful spirit that claims anyone who enters. It's known for its fragmented, non-linear storytelling, unnerving atmosphere, and disturbing imagery of a ghostly woman and a croaking child.

  • Dark Water (2002): Directed by Hideo Nakata (director of Ringu), this film taps into themes of family trauma, isolation, and the oppressive nature of urban life. It follows a single mother and her daughter moving into a dilapidated apartment where a mysterious water leak and a ghostly presence begin to terrorize them.

  • Shutter (2004): A Thai horror film that sparked an American remake, Shutter plays on the idea of spirit photography – the belief that ghosts can be captured on film. A young couple on their honeymoon discover strange blurs on their photographs, leading to a terrifying investigation and a chilling twist.

  • The Eye (2002): A Hong Kong-Singaporean film that centers on a blind woman who receives a cornea transplant, only to start experiencing disturbing visions and ghostly encounters. It explores the idea of 'second sight' and the blurring of lines between the living and the dead.

Ringu 1998 Reviewed FAQs

Q: What is Ringu? 

A: Ringu is a 1998 Japanese horror film directed by Hideo Nakata. It is based on the 1991 novel by Koji Suzuki and centers around a cursed videotape that leads viewers to die in a week after watching. The film sparked a worldwide interest in Japanese horror (J-horror) and launched a franchise that includes sequels, prequels, and international remakes.

Q: Who wrote the novel that inspired Ringu? 

A: Ringu is based on a novel by Koji Suzuki, a renowned Japanese author. Suzuki is considered a master of the horror genre, and his works often blend elements of supernatural terror with social commentary and technology-driven anxieties.

Q: What is the significance of the video tape in Ringu? 

A: The videotape in Ringu is cursed with the vengeful spirit of Sadako Yamamura, a young woman with psychic powers who was tragically murdered and thrown down a well. The tape's disturbing, fragmented visuals act as a conduit for Sadako's psychic energy, and anyone who watches it receives a phone call telling them they have seven days to live. Unless they break the curse by copying the tape and showing it to someone else, they will suffer a horrifying death.

Q: Are there any sequels to Ringu? 

A: Yes, there are numerous sequels and related films within the Ringu franchise. Here's a breakdown of some key ones:

  • Ring 2 (1999): Direct sequel to the original, exploring the aftermath of the curse and Sadako's origins.

  • Rasen (Spiral) (1998): Published concurrently with Ringu the movie, this novel presents an alternate continuation of the story with a focus on medical science. It was adapted into a less popular film of the same name in 1998.

  • Ring 0: Birthday (2000): A prequel that explores Sadako's backstory and the tragic events that led to her powers and vengeful spirit.

Q: What is the American version of Ringu called? 

A: The American version of Ringu is known as "The Ring" (2002) and was directed by Gore Verbinski. It stars Naomi Watts and generally follows the premise of the original but with certain changes to setting and backstory.

Q: What are some other works by Koji Suzuki related to Ringu? 

A: Koji Suzuki's Ring series of novels expands the mythology and introduces more complex elements:

  • Rasen (Spiral) (1995): Direct sequel to the original "Ring" novel, exploring themes of viral mutation and body horror.

  • Loop (1998): The final novel in the trilogy creates an alternate reality where humanity is endangered by a cancer-like virus linked to the events in Ringu.

Q: Is Ringu considered one of the best horror films? 

A: Ringu is absolutely considered a groundbreaking and influential horror film. Its slow-burn suspense, chilling atmosphere, and exploration of technology-driven terror made it a phenomenon both in Japan and abroad. It helped cement the rise of J-horror's popularity in the late 90s and early 2000s.


bottom of page