‘Ring’ follows Reiko (Nanako Matsushima) a reporter who is investigating the strange deaths surrounding rumours of a video tape that curses anyone who watches it – they receive a phone call and die seven days after seeing it. Naturally, after finding the tape and becoming cursed herself, she then contacts her ex-husband to help her. This is actually one problem I have with the film; I find it difficult to identify with Reiko as she brings this situation onto herself despite seeming to somewhat buy into the rumours. Not only that, but once she is cursed, she allows someone else to watch the tape. However, every other element is so well done that it just becomes a minor annoyance.
What makes ‘Ring’ special is how is combines actual Japanese folklore with contemporary fears surrounding technology. The idea that something old can adapt to and even thrive in the modern age is terrifying. This is something that has continued to be relevant and is further adapted for the ever-growing technological age in American sequel ‘Rings’ (2017), in which the video can be shared online. That’s why the film continues to be scary and is perhaps even scarier than ever, and was also so well received in Western culture. For the most part, technology is basically unavoidable in most countries as we rely on it more and more, so the threat that Sadako poses seems increasingly significant in retrospect.
The music by Kenji Kawai is also hugely important in emphasizing the fear the characters are feeling throughout. Without being over-used, the loud and screeching sounds are comparable to that of the scores in Dario Argento’s giallo films, but work just as well in the context of the supernatural. It possesses a dissonance that’s enough to put anyone on edge and adds to the atmosphere. This score is bold, and ‘Ring’ wouldn’t be nearly as effective in conveying the pure anguish Reiko is going through without it. Overall, all of the elements of the film from the acting to the music complement each other to make an incredibly effective horror film that is just as creepy as it was twenty years ago, and its mark on the genre continues to be visible today.