Rasen (AKA The Spiral)
Starring:
Koichi Sato, Miki Nakatani, Hinako Saeki
Directed By:
Jji Iida
Grade
C

I'm not actually sure what went through the minds of Japanese movie executives when they not only chose to film a sequel to Ringu, but then released it in the same year (and not too far off from when the first film premiered). It then bombed and the studio went quickly to work at making another sequel that basically acted like Rasen never happened. This also was released in the same year. So, now we have a film and two direct sequels that are unrelated to each other. If you've read the books and watched both sequels, you'll notice how Ringu 2 and Rasen work like alternate realities of each other. Each takes a unique path and chooses different means to progress the story of Sadako and her post mortem curse.

Rasen (AKA The Spiral) follows the path set forth by Koji Suzuki's book of the same title (published under the name Spiral in North America). The film introduces Ando, a medical examiner who must perform the autopsy of Ryuji, For those with short memories, Ryuji died at the end of Ringu from the curse he had worked so hard to solve. As fate would have it, the two men were in college together, so their past makes Ryuji's strange demise all the more interesting. At the same time, Ando is still dealing with the unfortunate drowning death of his child as he tries to put together the string of clues that lead him into the heart of a rash of connected deaths. It doesn't take much effort for Ando to come into contact with Mai, Ryuji's girlfriend at the time of his death.

Ando draws a link between the mysteriously cursed tape and smallpox symptoms in those who die by the horrific curse. For those not in the loop, the original Ringu established the story of a cursed tape in which those who witnessed it died seven days later. The source of this curse was an angry woman, by the name of Sadako, who was left for dead in an abandoned well. Ryuji and his ex-wife, a reporter by the name of Reiko Asakawa, thought they had solved the curse, only to end up with both of them dead, one by the curse, the other in a wreck when her child fell victim to the curse.

Unlike Ringu, Rasen takes the horror that is the curse into a new direction. Ando becomes involved with a reborn Sadako and discovers the nature of her powers and the logic behind her pattern of death and reproduction. Because of this, Rasen proves to be less of a horror film and more of a paranormal drama with some thriller moments. You won't find the dark and monstrous Sadako of the other films here.

For those who read the original book, this movie proves to be a nice offering. Much like Ringu, though, Rasen does take some noticeable liberties. While the overarching themes and major plot elements manage to be represented, many minor elements are changed, edited out or just altered to fit how things played out in the first movie.

As much of a fan of the series and books as I am, I have to say that Rasen is probably the worst of the lot and deserves the poor showing it made in the theaters. It tends to be boring and clinical and there's more weird parts than there are scary. In fact, Sadako is no longer the dark monster she is in the other films, which basically shifts the series away from the successful horror roots. On top of that, the direction is pedestrian and the acting feels quite uninspired and dry.

If you're a fan of the Ringu movies or the books, Rasen is worth the time to check out. Because it takes a different path than the rest of the movies, it's nice to see an alternate progression of the story. I have to say that I find it rather funny that the Korean version of The Ring Virus and Rasen are actually the most accurate to the books, but come across as the most "out of the loop" compared to the Japanese series.

- - Vane

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