"Train Man" (Takayuki Yamada) is a 22-year-old dweeb who does corporate tech support by day and hangs around Tokyo's electronics district by night collecting toy figures, fidgeting nervously with his glasses, and hiding behind his stringy hair. He's a classic otaku, an ubernerd who is most comfortable when he's alone and typing on his computer.
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Hustled out the same year as the wildly successful Ringu, Rasen was only the first attempt at a follow-up sequel. It picks up where the original left off, focusing on the investigation into the bizarre deaths we thought we had figured out in the original. Surprise: There's no ghost or spirit, really. It's all a virus that makes you see terrible things before you die. (Never mind that you can avoid getting whacked if you show a videotape to someone else.)
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Ringu is very atmospheric and often creepy, especially in its last half hour, but it's hardly chilling enough to keep you up at night. The fairly vapid performances don't really help, but the overwhelming sense of marching us toward doom makes up for many of the film's flaws. The remake, by all accounts, actually seems to be a better time.
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Note that, at least on the bootleg DVD that I saw, the white-on-white subtitles make much of the film hard to understand. I doubt many people will care, anyway. The kooky sequel bears little resemblance to its predecessor, especially regarding the sense of dreadful urgency it carried. A stillborn thriller.
Continue reading: Ringu 2 Review