Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: The Ring Virus (1999)

The Ring Virus (Review)
Kim Dong-bin/Shin Eun-Kyung/1999 
Where To Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...has more than a handful of creepy moments, as well as an ominous atmosphere throughout."

After her niece mysteriously dies from a heart attack, journalist Hong Sun-Joo (Shin Eun-Kyung) stumbles upon the mysterious death of three others and begins to investigate...

The Ring Virus is another version of The Ring, Ringu, or an adaptation of the novel -- however you want to look at it. Regardless, it follows the same premise. Sun-Joo begins investigating her niece and her friends' death, which leads her to a cursed tape. If you watch said tape, you will die in a week unless you... well, that's for Sun-Joo to find out before her time is up. So, she tracks the tape and the curse to save herself, her daughter, and her partner in the investigation. The film reaches a creepy climax, and even more chilling ending -- a genuinely skin-crawling ending.

The Ring Virus plays out more like a slow-burn mystery with horror elements -- it's not a traditional horror film. In fact, out of the three adaptations of the source material, this was the least horrifying, despite being the most accurate. However, The Ring Virus has more than a handful of creepy moments, as well as an ominous atmosphere throughout. The audio and visuals really compliment each other well, some of the audio is very creepy. The tape isn't as disturbing or surreal, but it gets the message across. There is a lack of impact, though, the hook really never sinks to the point where you're fully immersed. And, some of the story is poorly presented, so there is a communication problem, which may cause some confusion.

Shin Eun-Kyung is great as the lead, she plays the role with restraint, but with great emotion and charisma. The rest of the cast is equally impressive and likable. The film is shot nicely, creating dark, moody scenes through dark yet visible cinematography. The music is perfect -- the music and sounds are ominous and add to the film immensely. The pace is slow, and sometimes it lacks the necessary burn to be a slow-burn as there is a lack of horror. Fortunately, the writing presents an interesting story, albeit a bit confusing. The film is exceptionally made on the technical aspects.

Overall, The Ring Virus is a good slow-burn horror film. It's not as scary as the other adaptations, but it is exceptionally made and it has its heart in the right place. It has a few confusing moments, but the story is as chilling and disturbing as ever. The DVD of the film has English subtitles, but they are only decently translated -- this added to the confusion. So, if this is your first time watching a Ring adaptation and you don't understand Korean, you should watch the English-friendly versions. (i.e. the Japanese or U.S. Version)

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, disturbing visuals, and partial nudity. (barely visible)

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