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Gloomy, unsettling, creepy as hell, Ringu was real landmark in horror cinema. Imitated countless times but never equaled, it reinvented Japanese horror and spawned countless ripoffs, sequels, remakes right up until the genre quietly died with retarded fare like Korean horror film The Wig...about a killer wig. Not that a VHS is much scarier than a wig but if some gnarled monster woman came out of my TV, I would happily shit myself.

So why did Ringu work and fare like The Grudge or Premonition didn't...not really? Well, for one thing Ringu was a concept movie: it introduced a new idea, a new template and built a suitably creepy and unsettling atmosphere around it in order to create something fresh and genuinely scary. Other similar films struggled to find something which would match the VHS tape as a starting point: phones, websites...wigs. None of it really worked. Only certain films like Dark Water, The Eye or A Tale of Two Sisters which put more effort into the storytelling aspect rather than cheap scares managed to be interesting instead of settling for mere Ringu knock-offs.

In a way, these Ringu followers missed the point. Instead of imitating the tape aspect, which isn't particularly scary when you think about it, they should have focused more on trying to get the mood right. Ringu works because of its dark, rainy, gritty feel: everyone looks and is completely miserable and things are about to get way, way worse for them. Getting out of this mess is a struggle and even then, the tape is like a disease and spreads until all hope of survival is lost. Pretty grim indeed.

10 times better than its American remake and way better than any of its sequels, Ringu is a must see. Thank god for DVDs... 

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