An analysis of the Ring franchise: Fourth part: Ringu 0: Bâsudei / Ring 0: Birthday (2000) - Tragic teenage tale - 8/10
Ring 0: Birthday is the fourth entry in the Japanese horror movie franchise but intends to be a prequel that explains the origins of the cursed video tape. The most important thing to know is that this movie isn't a horror movie. It's a teenage drama that turns into grisly tragedy at the end.
In this movie, Sadako isn't a hateful spirit thirsting for revenge to make its story known. The film takes place about thirty years before the previous entries. Sadako is a shy student who has just joined an acting group, quickly replaces the deceased lead actress and starts a gentle romantic relationship with sympathetic sound director Toyama Hiroshi. However, strange accidents and even murders start happening in and around the group. Sadaka is soon declared the potential cause and culprit. The sound director's selfish girlfriend Tachihara Etsuko in particular tries to harm her rival by any means necessary. The play ends in a disaster and things frantically spiral out of control from then on.
On the positive side, this movie is refreshingly different from the other entries in the franchise. It's an emotive teenage drama with pessimistic and optimistic anecdotes. Things turn more sinister halfway through the film when mysterious accidents and murders occur. The movie ends in an intense tragedy and especially the final third is particularly intense. The acting performances are stellar and the best so far in the franchise. The fact that the viewers discover a completely new side of Sadako here helps them empathize with the ill-fated youngster.
The obvious disadvantage is that anyone who knows the franchise already realizes how this movie is going to end. Despite some creative ideas, this film is by far the least suspenseful in the franchise up to that point. The film's first half slightly overstays its welcome and the side story of an investigating reporter is completely unnecessary.
In a certain way, this movie bares many resemblances to adaptations of Stephen King's Carrie. We meet a charming girl who only desires to be accepted, loved and respected but things spiral out of control when she gets pushed too far. If you like teenage dramas with a sinister twist, give this movie a try. Adults and horror movie aficionados might however have a hard time appreciating this unusual entry in the franchise which can be considered an acquired taste. Just as the controversial second entry in the franchise entitled Spiral, Ring 0: Birthday however deserves more acclaim, attention and time than it has received because it takes some experimental risks and should be considered everything but boring in the context of the franchise.« An analysis of the Ring franchise: Third part: Ringu 2 / Ring 2 (1999) - The sequel that saved the franchise - 8/10CONCACAF Champions League is coming home: Deportivo Saprissa versus Montreal Impact »