[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00AEFYYA8][/pullquote] Japanese horror experienced something of a mainstream exposure in the early 2000s, with various films becoming so successful that they were remade for an English-speaking audience. While most remakes failed to live up to the quality and scare factor of their Asian predecessors, once actually surpassed the original. Gore Verbinski, latterly of Pirates of the Caribbean fame, took Hideo Nakata’s Ring, itself based on a novel by Koji Suzuki and remade it for American audiences as The Ring, bringing his unique sense of atmosphere to the now infamous plot.
Rachel (Naomi Watts) is asked by her sister to investigate the death of her niece after seemingly being ˜scared to death.’ She discovers through a series of impromptu conversations that her niece watched a mysterious video tape seven days before her death and this leads her on a path to find the tape and discover the truth to the urban myth surrounding it. She discovers the tape in a log cabin at Shelter Mountain Inn and sits down to watch it, only to receive a phone call afterwards from a little girl who simply says seven days.
What Japanese horror has always done well is combine the mystical elements of its culture with the supernatural elements of the genre. Ring, released in 1998, sets the scenes of investigation against a realistic backdrop of Japan, which makes the ending truly shocking. Verbinki’s version of The Ring dispenses with an mysticism and any sense of hope or light. All the colours are drained and a blue tint dulls the whole mood of the film to give a very cold, isolated world view.
The characters in The Ring, while a little two-dimensional (as is often the case in Verbinski’s work) are constantly in a state of panic and terror, and after a short while, it’s almost impossible for the audience not to feel the same way. At almost no point do you feel that things are going to work out for anyone involved in the proceedings, but it’s this sense of desperate hopelessness that leaves you chilled and shocked throughout.
The downside to this approach is that the final terrifying twist is not as impactful as it is in the more colourful original, but there’s plenty of quick cuts and screeching violin music to make up for it.