by James Simpson
Its October and that means one thing to UK Horror Scene: HALLOWEEN! James Simpson marks this date on the calendar by re-watching a horror film that had a profound impact on his viewing habits. It has, in some ways, became a tradition that many fans may relate to…
Dir. Hideo Nakata.
Starring. Hiroyuki Sanada and Nanako Matsushima.
The impact Ringu has had on me is immense and long lasting. While I originally saw it on Channel 4 late one night in May 2002 it has firmly became a movie I feel I have to watch every October 31st. In the years since that first viewing I have, unknowingly at first, made Ringu my ‘Halloween viewing tradition’ and it is an extra reason to enjoy the time of year I terrify all I know by dressing my large and bulky frame as Jason Voorhees. Simply put I love Ringu.
On reflection I didn’t expect much from the Japanese vengeful-ghost story. Having only read a brief review of the movie (which had mysteriously disappeared when I tried to track it down the same day I first saw Ringu – eek!) that informed me the end of the film was a totally unexpected ‘curve-ball’ I tuned in with reservations. At the time I was 17 and naive in what I thought was open minded approach to all forms of media. I didn’t even anticipate being able to ‘keep up’ with the subtitles for Ringu. Such complacency and doubts gradually escaped my mind as I began to enjoy the plot. It was the first time a film had ‘flown by’ in what felt like a few minutes.
The end was just what I had read of it – a curve-ball. It will not be spoiled here in case there are readers who are yet to experience Ringu. Needless to say it was unlike anything I had seen. The thrill of the plot twist dawning on me, and enhancing my viewing pleasure, is still a sensation I can vividly recall today. It was a development that had me wanting to know more about the film’s history, the director, cast and its inspiration. I became such a fan of the franchise and the source novel, as I later discovered it to be, I would find myself a moderator of a very busy forum dedicated to Ringu, I devoured that much information on the Japanese export. A movie had never had this effect on me and it changed the way I perceived cinema. If a ‘horror movie’ could do this to me then imagine what other horror genre film’s could do? I became open minded to a whole host of cinematic offerings that were seemingly ‘there all along’. 11 years later and I have seen a lot since then yet nothing can compare to that moment of first viewing Ringu.
It is that reason Ringu is watched annually in my household. Not only did I discover new, brilliant works of cinema but I also had a different mindset to Halloween. In the past it had been discarded as childish or frivolous, that changed. Halloween had evolved, in my mind, into an opportunity to celebrate and indulge in this new found love of horror. It has allowed me over the years to add to my annual Ringu love-fest.
For several years the classic and delightfully bonkers Demoni is essential viewing. Childs Play too (if the Christmas setting is ignored) and occasionally REC. While these movies are usually watched throughout the year thanks to DVD then Blu-ray it is still ‘tradition’ to try and watch them on October 31st. Everyone has a horror film they love and they celebrate that adoration in conjunction with Halloween as it is that one time of year that it feels undeniably right to watch Friday the 13th for the 30th time or Psycho for the 40th year in a row.
Halloween may be commercialised to cater to children being taken ‘Trick or Treating’ by their proud parents but for some, like me, it has found a new and more important purpose: to celebrate the horror genre.