A little while back, I wrote about The Blair Witch Project and the impact that movie had on the genre. However, there is one film out there with a richer history and has made just as much of an impact, Ringu.
Ringu, sometimes referred to as Ring in the West, is a classic of Asian Horror. With suspense and mystery, it is a fantastic film. Well, the Japanese version of the film. The American one sucks, just saying.
Also, I do not have high hopes for the new movie. It looks terrible. To be fair, I do have a bias when it comes to Asian films remade by Hollywood. Although that might just be because of my enteral hatred for Braveheart. As a Scot, I hate that film with a burning passion. They didn’t even film it in Scotland!
Sorry, I lost my focus. Back to the topic at hand.
What a lot of people don’t know is that not only is Ringu an adaptation of a book, which later on became a series, but is heavily inspired by mythology. Allow me to tell you the story of Okiku.
Okiku was a servant, working in Himeji Castle. She was engaged to the heir to the castle, but another man wanted to become the heir and tried to get Okiku to help him achieve that goal and become his mistress.
He tried to seduce her, but that didn’t work. So he stole one of the ten precious plates that were one of the symbols of power the castle had. He threatened to blame Okiku for the theft but promised to protect her if she became his. She refused.
He then had her tied over a well and beat within an inch of her life. He asked one more time and was rejected again. In anger, he killed her and threw her body down the well.
As he walked away, he heard Okiku’s voice count the plates, and screamed when she reached the missing tenth.
This story is so old that no one knows its true origins, and there are countless different versions of this tale. However, it is one of the most famous legends in Japan. You can clearly connections to Ringu and this myth.
Not only is Ringu inspired by this tale, but many other works of fiction are. In fact, there is a species of bug called Okiku mushi as it is found only at the bottoms of wells. These bugs look like they are tied up, just like Okiku was before her death.
I found a copy of the book the movie is based off, Ring, in English and I felt that I just had to read it. Despite my opinion that the book is always better than the movie (Heck, at the time of writing I’m wearing a top that says the book was better) I don’t think that rule applies here.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a good book, but it is almost identical to the film. So what? I hear you say, isn’t that a good thing? Well, not really. You see since it is exactly like the film you know the outcome already. So it takes away the suspense.
I would only recommend the book if you want to know more about Sadako, the killer ghost. The book goes more into her backstory and adds a few more details. The books further down the line do into detail about the science and magic behind her powers.
While this is interesting, I am a believer of the magic is in mystery. That you don’t need to know all the answers, and sometimes not knowing is half of the fun. That is why there are so many theories out there, it is fun to make up your own.
That said, they are well written, so I do recommend it, it just isn’t my favourite horror story. The best way to experience the book is with little knowledge of the movie.
Ringu is a masterpiece of not only Asian horror, but horror in general. If you haven’t already, read Ring or watch Ringu. Or why not read up on Japanese mythology. It is both morbid and poetic. Just to warn you, some stories are pretty intense. However, If you think you can handle it, you should read those ancent legends and in particular, traditional ghost stories. After all, this is the perfect time of year to read them.