Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Ring by Koji Suzuki
Maybe you remember the 2002 horror movie The Ring starring Naomi Watts, or the parody of the film in Scary Movie. Roger Ebert was certainly unimpressed with The Ring which is an American remake of a Japanese film.
The Ring is loosely based on the novel Ring (or Ringu in Japan) by Koji Suzuki. In both the films and the book, some teenagers die of fear seven days after watching a strange videotape they found. The American movie diverges from the novel after this point.
The uncle of one of the teenagers (he’s not that broken up about her death, don’t worry) discovers that three of her friends also died at around the same time. All were said to have died of heart failure. Kazuyuki Asakawa is a journalist with an interest in the paranormal. His investigation leads him to a cabin on a resort where the four teenagers stayed seven days before their deaths.
He finds a videotape full of strange images, which he watches. At the end of the tape, a message appears telling him that he has seven days to do one thing or he will die. That “charm” has been taped over (presumably by the teens) and he has no idea what he must do.
Now Asakawa must use all his journalistic resources to find out how to stop the threat on the videotape from coming true.
Ring was written in 1991 and really shows its age. Most of Asakawa’s investigating could be done now with the help of Google. It’s amazing how much time the internet saves people. How did we get along without it? And no cell phones!
Holy Sexism! All the men are the wooooooorst, even our “hero.” I did not like how he treated his wife. How he spoke to her was terrible, but he also tells everyone he knows (men) about the tape. The person he should have told, and right away, was his wife. Every other woman is either annoying to him or a sex object. The treatment of rape (it comes up a lot) is so, so inappropriate.
The antagonist is not a creepy well-dwelling child, but an adult. There is some discussion of why she did what she did. All I could think was that if she had to put up with those guys, I don’t blame her.
The idea behind Ring is interesting and I like spooky people with freaky powers, but the attitudes toward women were appalling. The writing was somewhat clunky and filled with unnecessary details. (I don’t care how much the coffee from the restaurant cost. Why are you telling the reader this?) I’m still glad I read Ring. I do like looking at the source material for cultural phenomena.
I feel kind of bad that this is what I’m posting for A More Diverse Universe, so I’m giving an alternate recommendation. If you’d like a spooky read from a Japanese LADY writer, I can’t say enough good things about Revenge by Yoko Ogawa.
Translated by Robert B. Rohmer and Glynne Walley