20 years of terror: A retrospective on “The Ring”

by | Oct 17, 2022 | Entertainment

22-years-ago, filmmaker Gore Verbinski received an unmarked VHS tape from a colleague. This tape contained a subtitled copy of a Japanese film called Ringu. Describing the 1998 film as “intriguing,” “pulp,” and “avant-garde,” Verbinski set out to adapt it for the west.

Later The Ring, which was released in 2002,  received mixed reviews. Despite the mixed feelings, the film paved the way for future Asian horror adaptations such as The Grudge, One Missed Call and The Eye.

Both “Ringu” and “The Ring” are identical on paper with a few minor exceptions. We follow a reporter who watches a cursed tape and has to find a way to lift the curse she’s brought upon herself and her son. Once you look beyond the plot, you’ll find that there are actually quite a few differences. Consider yourself warned, there are some mild spoilers going forward. 

Comparing the characters

The first, and most glaring difference, is how the villain is written.

Sadako (Ringu) is an afraid young woman who creates a psychic virus during a moment of hatred. Within Ringu and Ringu 2, she’s never portrayed as malicious, nor is she a ghost. Instead, the virus she creates causes hallucinations that scare people to death.

Samara (The Ring) is portrayed as violent, sadistic and malicious. I feel these qualities make her less memorable as a villain–she’s just a vengeful spirit, nothing else.

Both films, however, tell a story about child abuse with their villains. But I feel that Ringu takes a much more sympathetic stance, making me care a lot more about Sadako as a character.

Aesthetic and visuals 

The second most glaring difference between the films is the visuals. Ringu has a very neutral look to it. Some call it unprofessional, but I feel it adds to the film. It creates this feeling that this could happen to anybody. That isn’t to say that The Ring didn’t do the same thing with its ending, which deviates from Ringu.

In The Ring, the overbearing use of green creates a more uncomfortable atmosphere. This makes some of the more horrific scenes that much more terrifying. Both uses of colour are amazingly done, but for different reasons.

Still from “Ringu” (left) and “The Ring” (right)


The final major difference is the tone. Ringu is a sci-fi/thriller that contains themes of family and paternal sacrifice. The Ring is a horror film through and through. Both films use their genre and tone to tell an engaging, but different, story.

You can stream Ringu via Shudder or buy it online via Apple TV, Google Movies or the Microsoft Store. You can stream The Ring via Paramount+ and Prime Video or buy it online via Amazon, Apple TV, Google Movies and the Microsoft Store.

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