Years ago, I watched The Ring, which was an effective, scary horror film, even if the premise is a little silly. I mean, a cursed videotape, which kills everyone who watches it? Even though an explanation is given, it doesn’t make it any less ridiculous.
I find Ringu, the original Japanese film, based on a popular Japanese novel of the same name, to be more thoughtful and interesting. I guess I’m not alone in that. Most people who have seen both films prefer the original.
For me, the original is better because it seems to have two themes weaving throughout the film. The first is obvious—fear of technology. All the most frightening images have to do with the technology that we fill our lives with—videos, phones, pictures. These are manipulated to turn against their users, to stir fear and ultimately death.
But the second half of the film seems to go deeper than this. We delve into a story of a woman who is accused of lying and is so shamed by her society that she commits suicide. Her daughter is later buried alive by her own father for being a “monster”. And we might also note the tragedy of the main character, a reporter who was abandoned by her husband, left to raise their son on her own. He is a main character in the film, and he is often dismissing her suggestions, rejecting her participation and telling her to remember their child. Ultimately, this film isn’t really about technology at all, but about the use and abuse of women. It is the act of a woman, a mother, who brings deliverance to all.
Why then is the very end of the film about sharing the David Lynch-esque video? Of course, to avoid death. But why would the ghost want this done? First of all, I think that the death of Ryuji is simply to get back at his abuse of his wife. But it seems that the deaths end because of the spreading of the video? Probably, like David Lynch, the author of the video is an artist and she thinks that she is really communicating something about abuse and suffering through her video and so wants it shared with everyone. Of course, it took the whole length of the film to find out what the video meant, but artists don’t always get that.