Koichi Sato, Miki Nakatani, Hinako Saeki
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
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.