Ringu vs The Ring Review

Movie: Ringu vs The Ring
By: Kittatron
Date: December 5, 2011

Original Vs Remake: Ringu vs The Ring

Addressing the hot topic of which is better: The Original, or the remake?

It’s something I’ve always been adamantly against. Remakes. I guess I should maintain that I’m still very much against remakes… but I’m willing to admit how they can when done well, have their place and usefulness in the world of movies. There is one remake in horror that convinced me that they might not all be terrible, poorly translated/naturalised pieces of so much junk- and that is the English remake of Hideo Nakata’s “Ringu” as “The Ring”, directed by Gore Verbinski.


The Original “Ringu” Story is a tale of supernatural, beyond the grave terror involving a girl, a curse, and a well. I was impressed by the lengths to which Verbinski went to in order to naturalise the story to be “American” in its style. It’s the little things, but we begin to notice straight away how the language has been adjusted from the translation to be relevant as opposed to odd. In the beginning scenes Verbinski basically takes us through the same scenes as Nakata, with small subtle differences based on the different setting and language. However, he feels the need to add in quite a few things which take the scenes in the house from subtle and “little frights that could be nothing” to being very obviously the stock of supernatural ghost behaviours we expect from American cinema- water on the floor, a whole shot dedicated to unplugging the television only to have it turn back on- these things are very obvious compared to the subtlety of Nakata’s original style, in which the frights are more subtle things that could easily be explained away to being nervous home alone in a dark house. The television turning itself back on is the first really unusual thing to happen.

The 7th day

Subsequent to this we once again find ourselves following the story in Ring and The Ring simultaneously in plot, but the elements of The Ring have again been naturalised to fit American Society. Instead of directly asking her Niece’s friends what they thing about the rumor of a video; The reporter- lead overhears the friends talking and asks them what they mean. In both films, she ends up hearing a story of a video and a bunch of dead teens who received a phone call about having seven days. The remake follows on with the original in this fashion until we begin to learn more about the history of the supernatural problems plaguing our heroine. In order to naturalise the story and have it make sense to an American audience, Verbinski re-writes the Mother of our ghost to be, instead of a psychic woman in love with the monsters of the sea on a remote Japanese island, to a Woman raising racing horses on an island with her Husband, who goes away after many years trying without success to have a baby, and simply returns with one. Although its never explained how exactly she ended up with a baby, her husband explains it as “She was never meant to have that baby.” I struggled with this adaption, even though the naturalisation of it impressed me simply because it seemed unnecessary to me- the original theme of a woman who lived on a remote island, having an illicit affair with some kind of monster of the deep- it makes a great deal more sense in explaining the child, Sadako/Samara. Without the “Evil Monster for a father” explanation for Sadako/Samara’s origin, her supernatural prowess and evil nature simply cannot make sense. Considering how blatant and well spelled out everything else in the English adaption is, this lack of explanation in her origin is very hard to follow.

Before you die you see the ring

The deviation continues from there; the remake enters into trying to explain the origin of the video itself; taking the evil child into a mental institution in which they video record her to find out if she sleeps- which she doesn’t. They spell things out very clearly through all of this- just to be sure the audience gets it, of course. I think this is one of the reasons, if any one thing could be chosen, that I dislike remakes of Asian horror films so much. It’s this need to spell everything out in detail, assuming that the audience is too stupid to understand the subtlety and delicacy of a well laid out story. In the original film, very little is seen of Sadako, and we are shown a flash back through our reporter heroine showing Sadako terrorising a room full of journalists, killing one who insults her mother. As she runs away from the tumultuous scene she lays a hand of the shocked Reiko, leaving a mark that she later discovers has lasted on her arm after the vision. It’s one of only a few things that happen throughout the film, and one of the key differences that I notice in the ongoing translation. Ringu doesn’t need all the “cheese” and “scares” constantly trying to keep the viewer on edge; it does so magnificently through suggestion and sheer force of atmosphere. I should stipulate though that “The Ring” has far less of these cheesy scares than many American horror films I’ve seen. They make the film less intense and far less believable, but overall just not that bad compared to other remakes or various films (including such as Shutter, and Ju-On/The Grudge).


Overall, I was pretty impressed with The Ring as a remake. It’s honestly the only time I’ve watched through a whole remake with less than 10 teeth drying cringes. For those of you who struggle to watch sub-titled foreign films, The Ring is a decent enough rendition of the original which should enable the English speaking watcher to enjoy the story and frights delivered relatively well. “Ringu” is one of my favourite films, and I give its remake a decent 3.5 Stars.



Ringu vs The Ring


Ringu vs The Ring


Nakata vs Verbinski


Japan vs USA