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Shutter Review


Terrible
The horror genre has imploded. Wrought with remakes, horror is being strangled to death by a lack of creativity on the filmmakers' part and interest on ours. Having run out of worth-while Japanese horror (J-horror) and trampled on American classics, Hollywood has now turned to remaking other Asian horror (A-horror) flicks; the early quarter of the year brought a remake of The Eye (2002) and a redo of Takashi Miike's fantastic One Missed Call (2003). The latest in the downward spiral of remakes is of the forgettable Shutter.

Throughout both J- and A-horror, technology plays a role in connecting us with the dead -- whether it be something as complex as a cell phone or as simple as a camera. Shutter depends on the latter to carry its tale of a Y?rei (the traditional tortured Japanese spirit with a pale complexion and dark hair) haunting a newlywed couple on their honeymoon in Japan. Of course, the spirit is rooted in the past and Jane begins to investigate her new husband Ben's earlier years. But just like every other American remake of Eastern horror, the subtext is lost in translation -- turning the Y?rei into a horror gimmick rather than the thematic embodiment of a disillusioned soul. Whereas the spirits terrified in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Pulse (2001) due to their desperation in death, their American counterpart in films the likes of Shutter do nothing but skulk around, making creepy noises and staring endlessly.

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Rasen Review


Grim
"Ringu" doesn't mean anything. It's simply a Japanese approximation of the sound a phone makes. I'm not sure what "Rasen," the sequel to Ringu means, but in America, it's a dried grape.

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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Dark Water (2002) Review


Grim
Here's what the studio would like me to say: Dark Water does for bathtubs what The Ring did for VCRs.

Unfortunately, Psycho already took care of making bathtime not so much fun. Dark Water's attempts at creeping us out with half-assed frights and a pathetic story do little to alter that legacy.

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Ringu 0 Review


Weak
The final film in the Ringu series, Ringu 0 takes us back 30 years to learn the origins of that girl in the well, who she was, and how she ended up down there.

Too bad it's not a very compelling story. Sadako (Yukie Nakama) is an actress in college -- sort of -- and she's so nuanced that she draws the ire of her fellow actors. This culminates in Sadako being beaten to death by the troupe and coming back as a ghost to get her revenge. Sounds cool, but unfortunately the film spends about 85 minutes getting to the juicy bits. So for about 20 minutes, we've got a cool little thriller on our hands -- culminating in a cool and harrowing hunt through the woods. The other 80 is nothing but padding.

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Ringu Review


Good
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.

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