Quite possibly the most informative movie of the series, Ringu 0 is the "background" story of Sadako. In contrast to my wife's opinion of "Clue meets Poltergeist", I felt this movie was an excellent source of answers to the loopholes evident in Ringu and Ringu 2.
The movie begins in present day Japan, where 2 girls are yapping on their cell phones about the cursed video. We get the usual spiel about how people die 7 days after viewing the flick, and that many people are refusing to watch the video because of its notorious results. Suddenly, we cut to 30 years earlier, where a drama class is about to rehearse for their next show. We see Sadako, around age 17 in the drama class, trying to land a part. Apparently she was as creepy back then as in present day, as many of the class members get a "bad vibe" from her presence. The lead actress, Aiko, admits to others that she has been experiencing nightmares involving a well and a deserted house ever since Sadako joined the troupe. In a fit, she releases her anger at Sadako and storms off.
Oddly enough to viewers of both The Ring and Ringu, Sadako is a mild mannered and friendly girl that just wants to fit in to society. Her mother has been long dead since the notorious ESP experiment, but Sadako has yet to recover from the trauma of her death. A bit shaken by Aiko's outburst, Sadako retreats to the background, where she is confronted by Shigemori, the troupe's sound director. He comforts her a bit and we begin to see a relationship develop between the two. Now, I thought that he was going to totally dick her over and that's how she turned evil, but read on kiddies, ‘cuz the story is about to take an amazing twist.
Sadako has telekinetic powers, just like her mother. However, if y'all have seen Ringu 2 then you should know that her mother sent her to sea after she was born to "be with her father". Ever since I saw Ringu 2, I wondered exactly what that meant. Ringu 0 answered that question for me roughly an hour into the film. All the while people are experiencing the ill effects of Sadako's telekinetic powers, there's a shit-heel reporter on her tracks attempting to expose her for her mother's troubled past. The reporter finds the infamous doctor that conducted the ESP experiments and confronts him about Sadako's muddled past. To her (and my) great surprise, there are two Sadakos! The doctor has been hiding the smaller, childlike Sadako in his house for the last decade, forcing growth stunting drugs on her because she uses her powers for evil. Suddenly, the original Ringu with the 30 year old Sadako makes sense. But, I'm not going to explain why, because you'll have to watch Ringu 0 to fully understand the character roles.
As mentioned earlier, Ringu 0 gave me a better appreciation for the original Japanese title, offering up answers to many, if not all of the questions Ringu left me with. On the terror scale, Ringu 0 managed to make a small registry, with a few creepy parts guaranteed to deliver a shiver or two.
The special effects and sound were limited due to the small scale budget, but director Norio Tsuruta uses effective lighting and powerful lead performances to solidify this movie's standing. I was very impressed by Yuki Nakama's troubling persona as Sadako, often shaking my head at the unfortunate circumstances that she must endure throughout the movie. I must mention that when Sadako is finally confronted by her enemies some wicked sound work is used to convey the multiple injuries suffered.
A sad ending, and even more unnerving story, sealed the deal for me on this one. I'm not a very big fan of the original Ringu, however, this movie was able to provide me with a means for a greater appreciation of the story. Ringu 0 definitely delivers in storyline, even though it comes up short on the gore that we all love. I urge those of you that were troubled by the storylines of Ringu and Ringu 2 to pick this movie up, as it has in a way enlightened me on the background of this highly successful franchise.