Why the First Act of ‘Ringu’ Should Be Taught in Film Schools

The "S" in "VHS" stands for slow-burn.
Ringu Eye

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that looks at the slow-burn structure of  ‘Ringu.’

Released in 1998, Ringu is one of the most important films in international horror history. Responsible for popularizing the incumbent J-horror craze and triggering a slew of Western remakes, Ringu comes courtesy of Hideo Nakata, the same sicko responsible for the soul-rattlingly bleak Dark Water.

Adapting Koji Suzuki’s 1991 novel of the same name, Ringu follows Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima), a journalist whose passing interest in a schoolyard rumor becomes personal when her niece dies under mysterious circumstances that mirror the urban legend. Supposedly, there’s a movie circulating that is causing people to die. They watch it. They receive a telephone call. And a week later, they turn up dead. It can’t be true, can it? Reiko will have to see for herself. Now, if only she could get her hands on that cursed film …

While Ringu enjoys heaps of well-deserved praise for its larger impact on genre film, the specifics of its narrative merits are less discussed. In an effort to rectify that, here’s a video essay that looks into the construction of the film’s brilliant first act. Without giving up the ghost, as it were, Ringu‘s opening scenes steadily develop a sense of creeping dread while simultaneously drawing us closer and closer to the mystery. We’re like a marble dropped into a funnel, inching closer and closer towards a sinking inevitability.

In case you haven’t seen Ringu before (or in a while), the video essay below doesn’t contain any spoilers outside of the first act — but consider this a nudge to check this horror classic out!

Watch “How Ringu Eases You Into the Horror | Video Essay”:

Who made this?

This video essay on the storytelling mechanics of the slow-burn in 1998’s Ringu is by Accented Cinema, a Canadian-based YouTube video essay series with a focus on foreign cinema. You can subscribe to Accented Cinema for bi-weekly uploads here. You can follow them on Twitter here.

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    Meg Shields: Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.