Just like the curse featured in the story, The Ring just keeps on going, coming back again and again. First, the novels by Koji Suzuki that started it all, then the Japanese film and its American re-make, the sequels to those movies, and the manga adaptations of all of them. For what boils down to a simple revenge story, it sure has gotten a lot of attention. Yet it also begs the question: just how many times can you tell a story before it gets old? As the Korean remake of Ringu, Ring Virus puts that question to the test.
The story doesn't stray too far from the Japanese film. Sun-Joo is a reporter and single mother whose niece has recently died under mysterious circumstances. Three of the niece's friends also kicked the bucket at the same time, all for no apparent reason. Sun-Joo puts her investigative skills to work, discovering that a week before their deaths the four teens visited a resort together. Sun-Joo goes to check the place out and stays in the same room that her late niece did. She finds a videotape, and like most horror movie characters that ignore your screams of "No! Don't do it!", she goes ahead and watches it. After showing a series of seemingly unrelated images, a message appears on the screen: "Whoever watches this will die in exactly one week. If you want to live..." at which point the tape ends. Sun-Joo enlists the help of Dr. Choi, a doctor with an interest in the supernatural, and has him watch the video as well.
The movie becomes like a detective story, with the two characters investigating the origins of the tape. The images on the tape lead them to an island where they learn about a missing girl with psychic powers named Euh-Suh. Believing that Euh-Suh is the one responsible for the video, Sun-Joo and Dr. Choi try to track her down before their time runs out. The trail leads them back to the resort where the whole story started. With only hours before Sun-Joo's week is up, they set to work in putting Euh-Suh's soul to rest. When they find Euh-Suh's remains, it frees Euh-Suh's spirit, releasing them of the curse. Or, at least, that's what they think, until Euh-Suh visits Dr. Choi on the seventh day...
The story is very similar to Ringu. Though it follows the plot of the Japanese film closely, Ring Virus does have some of its own twists. Aside from the inclusion of things like incest and hermaphrodites, the biggest change would be the purpose of the videotape and why Euh-Suh created it. Unlike Sadoko, the longhaired wraith from Ringu, Euh-Suh is not out for vengeance. She has her own reasons for implementing the curse, which have nothing to do with revenge. She just wishes to have something as legacy after she dies, something that will continue long after she's gone. It was a credit to the story that I felt sympathetic for Euh-Suh, even though she did something horrible by making the videotape.
In both the Japanese and American films, the reporter teams up with her ex-husband, while in Ring Virus the heroine joins forces with a guy who is almost a complete stranger and a little crazy. The only reason that this character works is because of the actor playing him. Jin-Young Jeong gives Dr. Choi a realistic set of tics and makes him kind of obnoxious, but in a believable way. On the other hand, the actress who plays Sun-Joo is flat and emotionless. It's such a waste, since in theory this character goes through a roller coaster of emotions: mourning her niece, horror after being marked for death by the videotape, terror when her young daughter watches it too, and despair when it looks like she won't find a cure in time. Sadly, the actress never displays any of this and keeps a stoic front the entire time.
The few scenes where Sun-Joo doesn't appear in are the flashbacks during Euh-Suh's life. These scenes are shot in black-and-white or tinted yellow. For some scenes, this worked well, such as a flashback of Euh-Suh and her brother, with white sheets blowing in the background. At other times, it made the scene confusing and hard to understand. They also didn't seem very necessary to the film, since they showed things and events already covered in the plot.
Disregarding the flashbacks, the story is pretty straightforward. However, it has been done many times before, and in much better ways. It's not as scary as the American version, or as good of a mystery as Ringu. Ring Virus covers all the pivotal moments, but it does so in such a detached way that it's hard to get involved with the movie. People who have already seen Ringu will find this movie redundant, as it follows closely to the original Japanese film, and those who haven't seen any of the Ring movies would be better off seeing the American or Japanese counterparts, as opposed to this film.