(Well, some people showed interest in this, so here it is! My paper on Ringu as compared to popular Edo horror stories. This is the first thing I've tried to publish as Fan Words. How nervewracking! Anyways, I hope you guys enjoy?)
Ringu and Kaidan: The Cultural Significance of Japanese Horror
Ju-On: A curse born by a grudge held by someone who dies in the grip of deep anger or sadness. It gathers in the places frequented by that person in life, working its spell on those who come into contact with it and thus creating itself anew. (1)
By the standards of the typical American horror movie, the protagonists of Ringu did everything right. Investigative reporter Asakawa Reiko and her ex-husband Ryuuji, after watching the cursed videotape purported to kill them in seven days, set out on an arduous journey to discover the origins of the tape. Miraculously, they manage to find information on a psychic woman named Shizuko and her daughter, Sadako; not only do Reiko and Ryuuji figure out what happened to Sadako, but they actually locate her body at the bottom of a well in a remote cabin. When Reiko survives her deadline, Ryuuji happily yells, “We’re saved!” But Ringu did not actually end here – the next day, Ryuuji is killed by Sadako, and Reiko discovers that the only way to escape Sadako is to make a copy of the videotape and show it to someone else. When the film ends, Reiko is on her way to show her own father the tape in order to save her son, Yoichi.
This ending may have perplexed some American audiences. To them, it disagrees with all the logic of ghost stories: when the injustice done to the vengeful spirit is discovered by the protagonist, the spirit should be satisfied and stop the haunting immediately. But for the typical Japanese ghost story, this is not at all the case.
(1. This placard is shown at the beginning of each movie in the Ju-On horror franchise. While the description does not fit Sadako perfectly, it is almost the textbook definition of an onryou.)