After a schoolgirl dies in a rictus of terror a female
journalist called Asakawa investigates the modern legend of
a video which kills the viewer after a week. She discovers
that four friends stayed at a cabin, watched a video and died
a week later. When she traces the cabin, she finds the video
and watches a series of strange images surrounding a well,
a woman in a mirror and an eruption. Immediately it is finished
the phone rings and she knows she only has a week to live...
The woman in the mirror is discovered to be Shizuko. More
than 30 years earlier a Dr Ikuma had arranged a demonstration
of her E.S.P. for the press. The results were amazing, but
one reporter started a near riot by calling the test a hoax.
The reporter dropped dead, but Shizuko was as surprised as
anyone and realised it was her daughter Sadako, who had been
People called Sadako a monster as people often died around
her. When Shizuko died Dr Ikuma adopted her as his illegitimate
child. Now, Asakawa is searching for answers in a race against
time which is made more desperate when she learns her little
boy has watched the video. She guesses that Sadako was killed
and sealed in the well, and thinks that if she finds the body
her life will be saved. But what if that doesn't end the curse
and her time runs out?
made quite an impact when it first emerged in 1998. Hideo
Nakata gave us something almost totally different to what
we had become accustomed to. It's essentially a ghost story,
but gives us both new and old legends as well as an investigation
against the clock. The American remake, although pretty good,
failed to recapture the pace and storytelling skills of this
groundbreaking horror is creepy whilst remaining tasteful.
Unlike many Hollywood directors he also knows how to command
the scenario of time running out. One or two people about
to die somehow carries more tension than an entire facility,
or indeed the entire world, going up in flames. The suspense
of being trapped on an island during a storm with little more
than a day remaining is very well handled, as is the draining
of the well as the sun sets outside.
Asakawa, the journalist from the first, film is missing
and her ex-husband, thought saved, is dead. The body of Sadako
has been recovered from the well. The pathologist explains
that Sadako has only been dead for a year or two, which means
she was alive for 30 years sealed inside. The father of Asakawa
is found dead at his house. It is rumoured that the only way
to survive the curse if you have seen the video is to make
a copy and show it to somebody else within a week. It is thought
that she sacrificed her father to save her son. After a number
of curious sightings the boy is found. It turns out that,
like all those affected by the curse, he has developed some
terrifying powers from Sadako. A research scientist explains
that the video is the embodiment of Sadako's fury, and that
Yoichi, the boy has some of that same fury. But an experiment
to drain it off goes disastrously wrong...
film continues the story pretty much where the last one left
off. Asakawa and Yoichi her son have to be found, and when
they are Yoichi becomes the main focus of the story, although
his powers are linked inextricably to Sadako.
2 from 1999, also by Hideo Nakata, follows a similar format
of investigation interspersed with off-kilter links into the
nightmare world of Sadaka. The scene at the pool when the
water is used in an attempt to soak up Yoichi's fury is quite
spooky. A journalist colleague of Asakawa climbs the inside
of the well, with Yoichi clinging on, whilst Sadaka pursues
her at an alarming rate. When she reaches the top it is to
emerge from beneath the water of the pool.
In this prequel to the first film, Dr Ikuma and Sadako
have disappeared after the events of the E.S.P. demonstration.
Another reporter called Miyaji is trying to trace them. After
complaining about seeing strange things, Sadako later tells
her therapist that a drama troupe she has joined has helped
her condition. However, although Sadako finds love for the
first time, most people keep away from her because she is
unusual and aloof. Two of the actors have a dream with a well
in it, and see someone approaching Sadako from behind. One
of them dies in the drama hall with a hideous expression on
her face. The production continues with Sadako being given
the lead part, but when Miyaji and one of the troupe try to
kill her there are unforeseen consequences...
Ring 0 - Birthday from 2000 (by Norio Tsurunta) doesn't
have as many set piece edge-of-the-seat moments, it does achieve
much in explaining some of the unanswered questions created
by the first two films. We see Sadaka in the days leading
up to her death; all the troublesome moments appear to come
from a third party and she herself pleads innocence without
explaining why. The end sequence is quite inventive and I
wonder if Nakata himself sanctioned this twist to the whole
In 1954 a pregnant woman is the only survivor of a terrible
plane crash. Although she later dies at hospital, the baby
miraculously survives. She is healthy in every way except
she won't wake up. Seven years later a little boy is in hospital
with asthma. Against orders he wanders the corridors, and
finds a sleeping girl in a secluded room. A nurse tells him
the girl has never woken up since being born, and that she
is a Sleeping Beauty. The boys looks up the fable in a book
and then returns to her bedside, saying, "Wake up. I am a
prince," and kissing her. This becomes a daily ritual, even
after he is released from hospital. He returns regularly on
the bus, bringing her wild flowers and a kiss. In 1972, as
a teenage schoolboy he sees a flashback news report of the
aircrash and is disgusted with himself that he could ever
have forgotten. The ritual begins again. When she eventually
does wake up she develops staggeringly quickly from a baby
to a normal late teenager. They become very close, but then
she drops the bombshell that she was told by someone in her
sleep she would be awake for only five days...
can I say about Sleeping Bride except that it's an
unsung masterpiece. It isn't horror or fantasy, but it does
have a thoroughly magical quality.
thought this film from 2000 by Hideo Nakata had simply been
thrown in to make the package look better, but this is without
doubt the jewel in the crown of this 4-disc set. The
balance and pacing couldn't be bettered; we are expertly taken
though the emotions of sadness, melancholia, happiness, anger
and pain with a gentle manipulation of the viewer. These are
characters you really care about.
enjoyed this one so much that I watched it again only two
days later, and I can happily report that the effect was not
diminished. Like Mary Poppins: "Perfect in every way."
Only the Ring 0 disc contains extras (a Making of documentary,
deleted scenes, trailers and film notes), but who the devil
cares? This 4-disc set from Tartan Asia Extreme is worth anybody's
money. They are brand new anamorphic presentations offered
in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround or DTS, which means they look
and sound great. Go on, spend your money. These films are
so good you'll even forget you're reading subtitles.
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