Today’s selection: Ring 0 – Birthday (2000, dir. Norio Tsuruta)
Subgenre: Kaidan, ESPer
Available from: DreamWorks
Whether it’s Psycho 4, Phantasm Oblivion, or Hannibal Rising, there’s a tendency for the fourth installment in a horror franchise to return to the origins of its trademark antagonist, explaining why they became evil. The Ring franchise fits the pattern, as Ring 0 is a prequel (mostly), focusing on Sadako when she was just a slightly-unstable teenager with psychic powers, instead of a creepy well-bound TV ghost. The movie focuses on Sadako’s involvement in a theatre troup, which seems to be under a proto-version of the Ring curse: video tape didn’t exist yet, but there is cursed audio tape. Because of the curse, the suspicious troupe members bully innocent Sadako to the brink, then form a lynch mob, and… well, this is a prequel, so we all know how it’ll end. It gets a little weird when we find out that Sadako split herself into two bodies as a child, but I’ve got to admire the way characters in Ring movies are able to quickly adapt to inscrutable new pieces of logic-defying information.
Tomo’o Haraguchi was on the effects for the film, though there’s not a whole lot of really mind-blowing aspects on that front.