For many fans, there’s nothing scarier than J-horror, the recent wave of Japanese or Japanese-inspired horror movies, which can be more atmospheric and more inventive than their American counterparts. One of the scariest is The Ring, a remake of Hideo Nakata’s Ringu, which starts with an urban legend premise (a videotape that, if you watch it, you suddenly get a phone call telling you that you’ll die in exactly one week) and evolves into an elaborate ghost story.
Many of the recurring tropes of J-horror are here, from haunted-eyed children to vengeful ghosts to mysterious pools of water. The Hollywood Ring features a star-making performance by Naomi Watts as Rachel a woman trying to solve the riddle of the tape before it claims the life of her own child. She certainly proves she can scream with the best of ‘em (a talent that would serve her well in King Kong).
As Samara, the abandoned child at the heart of the mystery, Daveigh Chase is probably the scariest little girl ever put on film. The story continues in The Ring 2, directed by Nakata, in which Rachel battles Samara as she possesses the body of Rachel’s son. Not as scary, perhaps, but still, the two Ring movies are the most successful J-horror translations in Hollywood history.
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