Ringu 0: Birthday
Starring:
Yukie Nakama, Seiichi Tanabe, Yoshiko Tanaka
Directed By:
Norio Tsuruta
Grade
A

With the third Ringu movie, the story shifts back to the past in the form of a prequel. Considering how Ringu 2 took the original movie a step further, I'd have to say that the idea of shifting back into the past actually works for the series. For those familiar with Sadako's history, the setting of the story actually makes sense. In Ringu 0, Sadako is an actress in a troupe getting ready for their opening night. She is a quiet, introverted young woman who has no friends to speak of. Considering her previous interactions with society, it's no wonder she's shy of people.

Her introversion is largely because of the dark path her life has already taken. Her mother was a psychic, trotted out like a carnival freak, who killed herself after being publicly torn apart by the press during a performance. Sadako herself also has psychic abilities that seem just outside of her control. While she's just trying to stay out from under foot, a dark ghostlike entity is wrecking havoc in the troupe. When the head actress falls over dead, the quiet Sadako is forced into the main role. And, as luck would have it (you know this was going to happen), the rest of the troupe looks suspiciously on Sadako.

Sadako falls in love with one of production crew, who proves to be the only ally she has as the crew blames her for the death of the director and takes out their own revenge upon her. In a moment of brilliance, they decide to take what they think is her corpse back to the home of her father. It is there that the major twist is revealed - that there are actually two Sadako - one a nice, quiet young girl and the other a malevolent psychic mess. Reuniting the two brings about a destructive gestalt.

The whole end portion of the movie is monstrously intense as the dark half of Sadako takes her brutal vengeance on those who tried to tear her down. In broad day light, she passes through the forest, just out of the corner of everyone's vision. The screams of those she kills with little effort echo out as the survivors run to an abandoned shack to their final demise.

Ringu 0 presents more than a few elements that help flesh out Sadako as a person long before she becomes the Oriental bogeyman (or bogeywoman). The relationship she develops is charming while it flourishes in the world that shatters around her. The fact that she's given history (which is shown in minor detail in the Korean take on the first film) that's well fleshed out and fits with the other films gives Sadako a depth few horror monsters ever see.

Ringu 0 proves to have the strongest presentation of the series, especially with giving Sadako such a wonderful bit of character before her downward spiral. The psychological elements are creepier and the tie-in of Sadako's past to her present proves as a nice offering. Honestly, after watching the whole series, Ringu 0 feels like the most complete and definitely has the best resolution. If you are to see any of the films, outside of the first one, this is the one to catch.

- - Vane

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