1998, Ringu, directed by Hideo Nakata, became Japan’s highest grossing horror film to date! Hideo Nakata actually got his start in film erotica, he actually released a horror film in 1996 called “Joyu-rei” The Ghost Actress, this film he took part in because he needed the money to finish a documentary he was working on, I found it interesting through research of this director that he actually didn’t like horror films, he met through his work on Ghost Actress he met Takenori Sento, who would become one of the producers of Ringu.
In Ringu, he borrowed a plot convention of “pacing” where things are steadily revealed to bring up tension, Ringu is filled with this type of convention which Nakata pulled from Ghost Actress (1996) demonstratex deliberate steadily slow pacing in order to build up tension and create a sinister atmosphere, something which is significantly present in Ringu (1998). Very little is given away in plot and explanation and the first half of Ringu (it can even appear to drag at times) but it appropriately builds up tension as the audience know something is going to happen – ‘by providing the date before Reiko has actually seen the tape (a trick also used in The Amityville Horror (1979). Although there is similarity in pacing of the two films, they are different, but pacing is used traditionally in horror films that lack the blood and gore to get the reactions from the audience and instead build tension through pacing.
To me it was the soundtrack that added to this film that brought that tension to a max level, the film is based that you know something is coming but when is it going to arrive?, I think that is what makes this film work. The composition of screeching and poundings, which are altered in sound contribute beautifully to the dark atmosphere of Ringu (1998), additionally the washed out color scheme of greys and greens, the dark lighting and slowly paced (as mentioned earlier) build up of Sadakeo’s final act all contribute brilliantly to the restrained and tense atompshere.
The plot of watching a mysterious tape, and dying seven days later is same concept of folklore such as “bloody mary”, I think because Japanese culture is impacted by folklore and religion that is the success of this movie, I personally haven’t found any recent horror movies that have outdone the horror movies coming out of Japan. I am a huge fan of Ringu and the way the movies are filmed and delivered to the audience.