is the prequel to the successful Japanese ghost/horror movie Ring
which has already spun off a conventional follow-up (Ring 2
) and inspired a host of Far Eastern imitations, with a US remake in development. Opening with some tiny scene-setting to remind you of the urban legend of the cursed videotape, the film skips back to "30 years ago" and dramatises the hitherto-only-hinted-at tale of how the witchlike Sadako ended up in a well from which her melancholy, malign spirit spread her curse.
Strange young woman Sadako (Yukie Nakama) leaves her island home to become an apprentice in a theatre company, where her ambiguous psychic powers, several deaths and an outbreak of madness complicate the production. Nakama is fine as the spooky, Carrie-like heroine, as much a victim of her psychic abilities as those who drop dead around her, and there are several creepy sequences: a first night plagued by apparitions, a mob struck down one by one as they chase Sadako through a wood, and the inevitable, foreshadowed waking-up-in-a-well climax.
The original filmmakers have departed and the new team don't quite have the material to work with, which means Ring 0 plays better to initiate newcomers but can't hope to duplicate the stand-alone chills ofRing. Series fans will enjoy the filled-in back-story, but others should be warned that the film takes a bewildering amount of plot information for granted. --Kim Newman
The final part of the Ring trilogy and a prequel to the original film. It's the 1950s and Sadako, the evil spirit who wreaks havoc in the later stories, is here a young woman and aspiring actress around whom strange things happen. Under suspicion from her peers she eventually takes part in a paranormal demonstration in front of the media. One by one the journalists present start to die as the fiancée of one of the dead tries to unlock the mystery of the tape-recording of Sadako's voice.