Monday, December 21, 2009

Ringu: The Post That Launched 1,000 Debates.

Believe it or not this is the first time that I have seen Ringu and as many of you know I have a strange dislike for Asian horror movies that I can never quite understand. It's not that I don't find them terrifying and scary- or even that they lack a simple, beautiful kind of terror - because it is quite certain that they do contain all those things. But try as I might, I can just never appreciate them as much as I feel I should and it really really bothers me! So far in voicing my opinions I've been pretty much alone so with this review I'm going to try to both review Ringu and talk about why The Ring ended up fairing better for me- I know I know but put your guns down until I speak my peace.

The Ring and Ringu are pretty much the same movie plot-wise, only The Ring relies more on the mystery of the tape and on Samara while Ringu relies more on the suspense, and the atmosphere. The strengths in Ringu do lie within the fact that it doesn't rely entirely on scary distorted dead faces, and jump out of your pants moments. Rather, it builds up a tension and creates fear from something more genuine and unnerving than special effects. Sadako ends up being more sinister than Samara, because we know less about her and only her monstrous, unexplainable side is shown. Plus she is tall and older looking than Samara so...yeah.

So this is my thinking. Ringu has it's faults and so does The Ring. My problem is that people immediately equate The Ring with being a horrible movie because it's a remake of an Asian horror movie. Asian horror movies are supposedly the Messiah of all horror- but I still just don't see it. Yes they are beautifully done- but I loved The Ring and did not love Ringu as much as I thought I would. Does this have something to do with the fact that I saw The Ring before Ringu? Probably. But I will still maintain until my dying day- that The Ring carries more of a lasting impact than Ringu does.

My problems with Ringu have to do with the reliance on the ESP second sight, thing and how it plays into the plot. A lot of what the two main characters find out about the tape is solely found out by this apparent power they have to see things. This is perhaps where personal taste steps in- but I found the actual hunting and discovery of what The Ring actually is to be much more exciting and thoughtful than in Ringu. I also did not like Reiko very much at all. She had this awful habit of going into hysterics one minute- and then being fine and dandy the next. A perfect example of this- is after she shows Ryuji the tape and the next day she bounces over to his house and asks him "What's wrong" ... Oh I don't know just that you made me watch a killer video tape and now I'm going to die??? Her hysterics were also just pushed off the chart one too many times and it really got under my skin.

But the main thing that I have trouble with is just the overall effect of the film. For years I've been hearing Ringu Ringu Ringu- Ringu is the best, Ringu is the ultimate Asian horror movie and it's so much better than the crappy Ring- but I'm honestly finding it really hard to figure out why. Yes the American version souped it up with special effects, a scarier and more corpsey looking Samara, and a blonde and famous actress in the lead role- but do those choices really warrant the flack that it gets? I just felt so much more life and terror from The Ring and it didn't have to do with the fact that there were jump scares or anything like that. The realization of the true power of the ring was more disturbing to me- because we were there on Rachel's journey and we were a part of the discovery. It wasn't just something shown to us in psychic flashbacks. The backstory was more fleshed out and more believable and understandable and I think the majority of my favor towards The Ring comes from this.

I did love the Ringu videotape however and I felt it's images were far creepier than in The Ring. I also liked how Reiko's son was younger and less creepy and annoying than Aidan was. The presence of the ex-boyfriend/lover was more intruding in Ringu and I didn't love how Ryuji seems to take the reins. So here I am again disputing in my mind. Oh lordy. This is honestly the most frustrating blog post I've ever written. But I guess I'm just trying to say that The Ring did affect me more and scared me more than Ringu. I may very well be alone on my side but I'm going to stick with my gut. I'm not a sucker for special effects or movies that are in English. As most of you know I'm a lover of foreign horror movies and a hater of unnecessary special effects and gore- but yet I still prefer this American remake to the original. I'll probably never be able to fully digest why that is- but I feel better knowing that I spoke the truth today.

I guess I'm just sick of people immediately vetoing an American remake of something or even just an American horror movie and claiming that American movies will always be more interested in gore and boobs and other things that do not provide depth and discovery. It upsets me : ( and while I feel that yes American horror movies as of late are nowhere near as impressive as they once were- it is unfair to classify all of American horror based on the latest movies to be born.

Oh and I just have to say this- did anyone else have a serious laugh out loud moment when Sadako's father ran in and bopped her on the head? What was that sound effect about??! Someone better agree with me on that or I'm going to jump out of the window.

So that's it. I'm still as confused and boggled as ever and I hope I haven't lost too many readers because of it, but thanks for listening and don't be too harsh in your comments against my thoughts!


Dod said...

I also noticed the lack of "bwah!" moments in favor of building tension. The special effects seemed minimal, too. Definitely agree on the video being creepier in this version. I'm all for things being creepier.

Although I'd always been a champion of Asian horror, I will not raise my guns to you! Besides, you've given me an appreciation for French extreme, and I should be getting "I'm Not Scared" soon.

Andre Dumas said...

Thanks! I do believe French horror has taken over Asian's role in that respect!

Erin said...

The Ring is the only remake of an Asian horror film that I prefer over the original. Props to you for voicing an unpopular opinion, and not just because I also have said opinion!

Steve @ Horror Extreme said...

I have to say that I preferred Ringu by far but I think a lot of that could be the fact that it was the first Asian horror that I saw and it opened up a whole new world of horror for me. I also see the massive influence that it has had on the horror scene on the whole, but after having now seen so much horror from those parts I think it was probably best that Ringu stole my Asian horror virginity as I think I would have different views of it now after the plethora of pale faced, long haired ghosts I have seen since. I really like the confusion and seemingly random interludes that certain Japanese directors bring... sorry I’m waffling now... Good post!

Andre said...

Thanks Erin and Steve!

Steve, Ringu is definitely on the top of my Asian horror list and sadly it's a short list because as you point out I did not see Ringu until now. You are lucky for Ringu to have been your first!