January 27, 2020  (Web Review)

Ringu Collection

Arrow (avail. from www.amazon.com), 3 discs, 391 min., not rated, Blu-ray: $99.95

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

The original 1998 Ringu (aka The Ring), directed by Hideo Nakata, changed the face of Japanese horror cinema. Adapted from a novel by Koji Suzuki (who has been called “the Japanese Stephen King”), the eerie thriller about a mysterious, unsettling videotape that kills anyone who watches after seven days is an urban legend turned skin-crawling psycho-thriller with supernatural echoes. Ringu became a phenomenon throughout Asia, spawning sequels, prequels, remakes, and a TV series, none of which approach the power of the lead film, which spins the murky tale with ingeniously simple techniques (the videotape oozes suggestive horror, the victims are frozen in a disturbing look of utter terror, photographs of the doomed smear and blur into unrecognizable puddles, and a gnarled ghost crawls and stumbles to her victims with the jerky, unearthly manner of a demonic insect). Nakata also directs the reasonably compelling Ringu 2 (1999), which follows the surviving son of a couple as he is put through a strange series of tests while a subplot explores the cycle of the curse as a strange sort of bonding ceremony, along with attendant guilt and responsibility. By the end of this sequel, everyone who even touches the tape is, in one way or another, cursed. Also included in the Ringu Collection is the “alternate” sequel Rasen (aka Spiral, 1998), directed by George Iida, and the eerie prequel Ringu 0 (2000), directed by Norio Tsuruta, which takes place 30 years before the events of Ringu. The four films are presented on three Blu-ray discs, with a new 4K restoration of Ringu, and extras including audio commentaries on Ringu and Ringu 0, video essays, new and archival interviews, deleted scenes, and a booklet. Recommended. (S. Axmaker)