Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"This is an extraordinary film, not least because it is Japanese and yet feels universal."

Terror is simple. It can kill you. Noone understands this, which is part of the mystery. When you think about it, what is more scary than the unknown?

Ring does not refer to a wedding band, or the longest opera that ever lived. It is the sound of a telephone. The reporter picks it up. A voice says, "You will die in a week."

Copy picture

Hoax call? Everyone thought so until four young people were found dead on the same day. The expression on their faces indicated that they died of fright.

Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) follows up the story for her newspaper and discovers "the curse video", which, in some weird way, is connected. She watches it and then the phone rings.

There is something about the voice that convinces her. "It's not of this world," she says. Where then? Beyond the grave?

Ghost stories are notoriously difficult to film. Special effects become essential. They don't help. Fear is in the mind and the mind is indescribable.

Hideo Nakata understands this. His film has a clean look, as if clarity empties the screen of miscellaneous influences.

The story behind the video slowly emerges, as Asakawa investigates the source of the voice, with the help of her ex-husband, who happens to be psychic.

Every day that passes brings her closer to the horror. Although beyond belief, she believes it. Whatever is meant by the supernatural connects to an incident in the past that demands retribution. You believe it, too.

This is an extraordinary film, not least because it is Japanese and yet feels universal. When blood runs cold, the heart can stop. Take a friend. Or take care.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
Share this with others on...
Ring packshot
A cursed video that spawned a thousand sequels and remakes makes its debut.
Amazon link

Director: Hideo Nakata

Writer: Hiroshi Takayashi, based on the novel by Koji Suzuki

Starring: Nanako Matsushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Miki Nakatani, Yuko Takeuchi, Hitomi Sato

Year: 1998

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Japan/South Korea


EIFF 2000
Dundead 2019

Search database:

Related Articles:

Big in Japan

If you like this, try:

The Ring