Spiral (Japan 1998)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 2/19/02
Cast: Koichi Sato

Not quite what I was expecting. This film was made and released concurrently with the original "Ring" (1998) theatrical film, as an intended sequel and an adaptation of the second "Ring" novel. However, it seems to take a serious detour and should NOT be confused with "Ring 2," which is the actual sequel to the film. Of course, without the benefit of subtitles it's rather difficult to follow, but I'll do the best I can. Dr. Ando (Koichi Sato) is grieving over the drowning death of his son and has lost his will to live. When his friend Ryuji (from the first "Ring" film) dies of a mysterious disease, he performs the autopsy and finds an encrypted message in his stomach (?). Ando meets up with Ryuji's girlfriend Mai and they start looking for answers. They also learn of Sadako and the video tape curse when the reporter from the first film dies in a car accident. After watching the video, Ando is "infected" and only has seven days to live. However, he determines that the video is not a supernatural curse, but a virus that is passed through the eye in the form of a DNA sequence. Trippy, huh? Trying to comfort their grief, Ando and Mai sleep with each other, and Ando miraculously survives past the seven day deadline. But now Mai is missing... Mai shows up a few days later, but her personality is considerably different. Ando doesn't seem to mind, though, until Mai's dead body is recovered with signs of having just given birth. Creepy. So the increasingly sexy Mai that's running around with Ando is really the "reincarnation" of Sadako in Mai's form, and she tells him that anyone can be reborn through her as long as she has a DNA sample. As her present to him, she "resurrects" Ando's son as well as Ryuji and bids farewell. But these clones also contain Sadako's psychic abilities, so is this really a good thing?

A good looking and well made film that suffers only from a handful of irritating handheld shots. The video transfer also bounces back and forth between fullscreen and widescreen for no apparent reason, which is rather annoying. What's up with that? The music score is sad and haunting, adding to the overwhelming grief that saturates the film. Having not seen the original "Ring" or "Ring 2," I can't make any comparisons. However, I thought that the Korean remake of "Ring," called "The Ring Virus" (1999), was more compelling and considerably scarier than this outing.