CFS to feature Japanese smash ‘Ringu,’ basis for American horror hit ‘The Ring’

Nathan Molteni

Unlike American horror films, where the profits are often directly related to the number of bloodbaths included, “Ringu” is a psychological thriller that has spawned not only a sequel, prequel and copycat American remake.

It also originated a new wave of Japanese horror films, affectionately dubbed J-Horror.

Breaking box-office records upon release in Japan in 1998, the world-wide success of this film has helped its cast become highly visible Japanese pop stars, appearing in ads and at theme parks.

Derived from a series of best-selling novels by Koji Suzuki (known as the Stephen King of Japan), “Ringu” tells the story of a mysterious video tape with murderous intent.

This strange, grainy video carries its own urban legend.

After watching ghostly figures on screen, you receive a haunting phone call that declares you have only one week to live.

The legend is realized when four Japanese girls die on the same day, with the only connection being their viewing of the tape.

All the victims die with their faces contorted in terror, and pictures of the victims, even those predating their deaths, show similarly gruesome expressions.

These deaths inspire a news reporter to investigate the history of the tape.

Upon viewing it and receiving her own frightening phone call, she enlists the aid of her ex-husband, and both of them begin a race against time to solve the mystery.

Costing a mere $1.2 million, “Ringu” is a ground-breaking film from director Hideo Nakata.

It avoids the cheap scares, rampant bloodshed and extensive special effects that appear in excess in most American horror films.

Its lack of expensive scare tactics, however, does not lessen the film’s ability to inspire fear in viewers’ hearts, as the insinuation of impending doom pervades every shot.

With nearly every locale shrouded in shadows and misery, the gloomy atmosphere builds the tension around the characters’ every action.

Multiplied by the desperation evident in the news reporter’s fear over the fate of her family, simple door openings and innocent phone rings are enough to send shivers down the back of even the veteran horror film viewer.

The characters are consistently tracked by the camera in their exploits, giving the impression that someone is following them, and despite their best efforts, they are powerless against the unknown.

Along with the imagery, the film mixes prevalent silence with moments of harsh, unexpected sound to create a soundtrack that instills fear and trembling.

The seventh feature in Villanova’s spring 2008 Cultural Film & Lecture Series, “Ringu” will be screened four times in the Connelly Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 and 7 p.m., and Monday at 7 p.m.

Admission is free for students with proper ID and $5 for everyone else.

The movie will be shown in its original language- Japanese – with English subtitles.

Guest speaker Rick Worland, who has written a book on horror films, will be at the Monday evening screening to provide an introduction and lead a discussion afterward.

For more information, please contact the communication department at x9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the CFS Web page: