For starters, Hideo Nakata’s directorial style is more grounded in reality, and is not interested in making a stylish music-video type film the way Gore Verbinski did. Yes it’s flat, but that’s what sells it: you feel as if you could be there when the shit goes down. The story is very episodic, with the characters moving from one point to the next in their quest to destroy the cursed tape, or at least try to get away from it. The movie references many horror movies from the past, like the ghosts coming out of the TV (Poltergeist) and the well that carries the corpse of a young child (The Changeling). Acting-wise, both movies are very flawed. Nanako Matsumina is way better than Naomi Watts, who I’ve never been a big fan off except for in Mulholland Drive, while the two boyfriend characters are both dull as hell. Although in the original, the boyfriend is a lot more irritating. He seems to know everything before anything even happens! I know he’s a psychic, but geez this is ridiculous! Both movies also have the same gaping plot-holes and irritating moments: why does that stupid bitch show her boyfriend the videotape, when she suspects already that it’s cursed? I would have bitch slapped her. Then again, the remake does have a kamikaze horse, and it is pretty cool. Of course, the one scene we have to compare from both films is the sequence featuring the little girl coming out of the well. Sadako/Samara is one truly frightening creation, a really scary ghost that dates back to Japanese tradition, with characters like the Snow Witch that are basically representations of female wrath, something that the Japanese don’t like to fuck with. I’m going to have to go with the original again in this one, since it relies more on genuine camera tricks and different props than having to rely on style and CGI to create what looks like a cartoon. Besides, the face Samara makes before she kills the boyfriend is hilarious. “Look at me, I’m mean, grrr”. Give me a break, what is this, Popeye?
So in conclusion, these are two very good stories that, even when flawed, have interesting ideas and pretty frightening imagery, although personally I will have to go with the original for having a darker edge, more realistic cinematography and, of course, because it’s the original. They both receive my thumbs up.