The story follows Reiko, a journalist, whose niece suddenly dies after watching a mysterious video tape with her friends, all of whom die at the exact same time. The teens suffer sudden heart failure, with unnatural expressions on their faces. Reiko discovers a rumor of a “cursed” tape and investigates the cabin where her niece and friends stayed. There, she discovers and watches the cursed video tape only to receive a suspicious phone call in the cabin.
In order to save herself, she must hunt for the answer and reveal the story behind this curious tape. She involves her ex husband, with which she has a very independent child, to assist her on solving the mystery. Their son ends up watching the tape and so the importance of discovering the answer multiplies. Reiko discovers the tape is linked to a family whose mother was a psychic, and the daughter Sadako was murdered. One can say Sadako returns with a vengeance, creates the video tape, and after one week, kills those who watch it. Reiko and her ex husband believe they can release her spirit if they recover her body.
Comparing this to the American remake, The Ring, the scare factor of Ringu was severely less. Creepy at times it was, horrifying as expected it wasn’t. This movie definitely played up its strong suit which was the plot, and didn’t try too hard to scare its viewers. It was still unsettling and disturbing at times, but a little less than expected. The ending was also a bit of a letdown; they could have made the end scene more of a powerful moment, instead of leaving the viewer feeling like it was just a small plot point. More than once did I feel there was going to be a dramatic moment only to feel a little dissatisfied.
The acting was believable, but overall could have been better, as could the effects, which is tied into the underwhelming scare factor. The “unnatural” expressions of those who die are not like that of The Ring. In Ringu, they simply have an open mouth and eyes rolled back in their head, which shows that they were frightened, but they weren’t really unbelievable expressions. Still eerie because the viewer doesn’t truly know how they died, but not as scary as intended.