Ringu (1998) (Unrated)

While American directors have struggled with the horror genre over the last two decades—"Paranormal Activity" being one of the few exceptions along with "Saw" and a handful of others to a rather dismal showing both in the box office and in terms of critical reception—Japanese and other Asian horror movies have excelled. Most of the time we hear of these films because they get remade. "Ringu" or "The Ring" is one of the explosive horror gems from Japan ("Audition" is another).
But first, a quick setup: there's legend of a cursed video tape. A boy, while away on vacation thought he was taping his regular show on a VHS tape, but it turns out, that he accidentally pirated a video of a woman pointing to the screen and saying "you'll die within a week". A week exactly to the minute of when the video was seen and it's curtains for you, my friend.
The movie opens with a demonstration of this legend coming true and it proves a few things: legends aren't always what they seem and the unknown is always more frightening than what actually exists.
A young reporter named Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) is trying to track down the origins of the video that now haunts the minds of the highschool students in the local area whose friends seem to be dropping like flies.
Asakawa is fascinated by this urban legend, but it hits closer to home when her niece dies mysteriously. She becomes convinced that her niece saw the videotape and now she places it upon herself to track undo whatever wrong has been committed.
What I like the most about "Ringu" is how the spiritual, the other-worldly is just taken for granted. It doesn't always need explanation and that makes it even scarier. "Ringu" is immaculately executed, never having a dull moment or a section that wasn't brimming with the most sensational visual. The camera is an evil eye in "Ringu", often lurking above the character's, as if it is the ghost of some haunted soul.
Stylish and not relying on jump scares to make you cringe and scream, "Ringu" is one of the best horror movies you can get your hands onto. True to form of its genre, it does get a little weird near the end, but I appreciate the ending most, because it doesn't have to have the quick Hitchcock solution that we see in most horror movies. There's nothing neat or nice about how to take care of a curse.
"Poltergeist" tried to make the television scary and sometimes it does; but Tobe Hooper's movie is too cheerful and Spielberg-y to actually be frightening. Here, the TV is a freakin' scary thing. I don't think anyone has done it better and I would wager than no one will.
Based on a novel of the same name Hideo Nakata adapted and directed this movie—it's what he's best known for. The suffocating and time-taking moodiness of each passing scene, added to the whole theme of mother's love, makes "Ringu" enjoyable and the characters relatable. 
Asakawa has to team up with her ex-husband, before it's all over and he has his own secrets that will tumble out before it's all over. 
"Ringu" is practically perfect in every way.

Score: ★★★★

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