Before there was The Ring, there was Ringu, the Japanese horror/thriller that was remade virtually verbatim from this original. Of course, it's a little less Hollywood-shiny, a little less in-yo-face-scary, and a lot more subtitled. But the guts are the same: an unlabeled videotape is making the rounds... watch it, and you die in one week's time. A skeptic TV station employee discovers the tape after her cousin watches it and dies, watches it herself, and soon draws her ex-husband and nephew into the quest to find out more about the tape's origins and, hopefully, avoid death for all three of them.
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.
Followed by sequels Rasen, Ringu 2, and Ringu 0. You can get the entire Ringu set of four films in a single box set, "Anthology of Terror."