Ring is the best horror film I have seen in recent years. It is a Japanese film by Hideo Nakata and tells of a mysterious videotape, which when watched seems to result in a terrifying death exactly a week later. The movie begins with a group of teenagers having watched the video and each then winds up dead with a look of extreme fear frozen on their faces. The video becomes an urban legend until the cynical journalist Reiko finds it and against her will is drawn into the mystery.
This film is slow-paced and builds the tension beautifully. The soundtrack is muddy, it always seems to be raining and there are long, uncomfortable periods of silence. When combined with the chilling high-pitched music chosen to denote that creepy things are afoot the effect is very unsettling indeed. The whole film is filled with a sense of dread.
Reiko begins to discover some of the facts behind the tape through her research and the chase is on for her to find the body of Sadako, before her week is up and Sadako finds her. Sadako is a young girl imbued with psychic talents she cannot control and through some very chilling black and white flashbacks her story is slowly unraveled and the reason for her terrible revenge becomes apparent.
The real horror of this film is confined to a very few scenes, one in particular had me crawling backwards up the couch in an unconscious desire to escape. Sadako´s character has been very well imagined, the long black hair covering the face, the awkward jerky walk, an image that is not easy to wipe from your mind.
The direction is excellent nicely tying together all the threads of the story. I thought the flashback scenes were especially well done, cut in a dreamlike way as though they were hazy memories, they include many scary images, which are achieved without the use of gore. The tension is also built and then relieved before the real scare kicks in, it is almost like the film pretends to finish, relaxes the audience and then smacks you in the face with a killer blow.
The acting throughout is very convincing, don´t be put off by subtitles they certainly don´t make the film any less potent. The main players are Matsushima Nanako as Reiko, Sanada Hiroyuki as her husband Ryuji, Nakatini Miki and Sato Hitomi. All of the characters are believable and the interaction is convincing. In particular I liked the strange relationship between Reiko´s son and his father (Reiko´s ex).
The film runs for an hour and a half and got a 15 certificate. Hollywood have naturally made their own version of this, due to the American audiences´ inability to watch a film with subtitles, I´d urge you to watch the original. If you were disappointed with the over hyped Blair Witch Project then give this a try, it is a far superior horror film. The kind of chilling idea, which stays with you, make sure you unplug the phone if you are watching this alone.