1998 Dir: Hideo Nakata With: Nanako Matsushima, Miki Nakatani, Hiroyuki Sanada, Yuko Takeuchi
An urban legend is circulating amongst Japanese teens concerning a "cursed" videotape. It shows a strange woman and a series of relatively unconnected scenes.. If anyone watches the tape, immediately after they receive a telephone call which tells them that they'll die exactly one week later. And - guess what - everyone who does view the film, receives the call and dies mysteriously seven days to the minute after watching it.
Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) is a television journalist working on a story about the legend. Her investigations uncover a series of deaths and her break in the story comes, tragically, when her young niece Tomoko (Yuko Takeuchi) dies unexpectedly, and at the funeral she finds out from the girls friends that several others who spent a trip with her, died the same night, from no apparent cause. The rumour being that they all viewed the cursed tape while on the trip and that it was responsible.
She checks out the place they stayed and she chances on the tape they watched, and of course she watches it (duh!) And low and behold if the phone doesn't ring immediately after she's done so!
Now, believing that there might be something in the myth, her investigation takes on urgency; a race against time, as she desperately tries to put together the clues provided by what is on the tape. Her college professor ex-husband Ryuji Takayama (Henry Sanada) assists her, they become even more desperate to solve its mystery when their young son Yoichi (Rikiya Otaka) sees the tape as well (and this is not a film that all the family should watch!)
The pair discover that the images where filmed in Indonesia and set off to learn more, but after gaining some leads, and discovering who the mysterious woman in the film is, a storm rages and they fear they won't make it in time to save themselves and their son.
The rest of the story concerns the dead daughter of the woman in the video, who's remains they must recover from a well - they figure - to stop the curse. The scene where the pair are emptying the well - which contains her skeleton - of water with buckets, as it grows darker and darker outside, and the clock is ticking steadily to the time when it is exactly a week later to the minute when Reiko watched the tape, is very eerie and suspenseful.
To tell you anymore of the plot would give away the ending, so if you've not seen it, check it out for yourself.
The film was based on a story by Koji Suzuki, and was first adapted in 1995 as a TV movie, which proved so popular that it was released in cinemas. This theatrical version was made two years later. It was a big hit in Japan, and spawned sequels, Korean and American remakes, and even a television series!