Ringu vs. The Ring

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Ringu (1998) vs. The Ring (2002)

The Japanese horror film Ringu directed by Hideo Nakata was released in 1998, known as the most successful horror film in Japanese horror genre history. Four years later, Ringu’s Hollywood counterpart The Ring directed by Gore Verbinski was released, introducing the films to a massive international audience and market, as well as helping the Japanese horror genre step onto the international stage. The Ring is publicly praised as one of the most popular and successful remakes in Hollywood history. The film tells a story that is adopted from the traditional Japanese tale about a cursed videotape in which contains random, disrupted and fragmented images. Immediately after viewing the videotape, the viewers will receive a phone call, ensuring their death within seven days. The screenplay and direction of The Ring mainly stay faithful to the ones of Ringu, however, the final scenes, the seemingly disconnected images on the murderous videotape and the stories behind the videotape differ heavily. The television set and the videotape are apparently the crucial locus of terror in these two films, and this certain type of terror keeps echoing in the Ringu sequel. Both the original and the remake propose an overt theme of a universal anxiety generated by media technologies such as telephone, television and videotape. While the Hollywood version is a reinforcement of the Japanese one regarding the technology anxiety theme because it is imbedded with so many technological means that it seems difficult to judge whether these technologies are beneficial or threatening to our society as a whole. The two films highlight this particular anxiety by further accusing media technology as the threatening and harmful force to not only the security of the family home, but also the ties among social groups. Chuck Tryon writes in his article “Video from the Void: Video Spectatorship, Domestic Film Cultures, and Contemporary Horror Film”: “…The Ring instead views TV and video as invasive technologies that threaten the security of the family home” (45). In The Ring, Verbinski acknowledges the technology or television phobia at the beginning by presenting the “I hate television” conversation between Katie and Rebecca. The fact that Katie has her own television in the room suggests that she does not bond with her family very often and enjoys the privacy of her own. Although Katie’s mother seems very caring by making the phone call, in reality she is not quite bonded with Katie at all. She does not know that Katie has a boyfriend, nor did she know that Katie had spent last weekend in the cabin with her friends. The boredom of television shows and a lack of communication between parents and children forces Katie to turn to the videotape for fun, which eventually results in her death. Tryon also explains the relationship between Rachel and Aidan as such: “Rachel’s initial inability to solve the mystery relies in part on the typical slasher-film trope of a communications gap between teenagers and their parents, through which The Ring implicitly links the danger of TV and video spectatorship to parental fears about protecting their children from dangerous or harmful images” (46). We can find evidence to support Tryon’s statement in the scene where Rachel wake up in the middle of the night, finding Aidan is sitting in front of the TV set and watching the cursed videotape. She immediately uses her hands to cover Aidan’s eyes up, screaming and crying. Most of us must be really familiar with this particular action of Rachel’s. Yes, when we were little, our parents always use their hands to cover our eyes up to prevent us from watching something that we were not supposed to know or would have negative impact on our growth. According to Tryon, it is Rachel’s fail of fulfilling her duties as a mother that eventually puts Aidan’s life in danger. Throughout the film, Aidan only calls Rachel “mom” once. We see Aidan going to...
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