From the very beginning this Japanese scary movie offers Scream-esque fright-flick postmodernism played for real as two young girls alone in a dim house goof around and get each other a little scared talking about a urban legend--a videotape that causes anyone who watches it to die. The story arouses the curiosity of a reporter (Nanako Matsushima), who discovers that the legend may be true. The Blair Witch Project raised short hairs with the clever suggestion that you might be watching something real; Ringu (aka The Ring) takes that idea one step further by bringing it directly into your home. When Matsushima's intrepid journo pops the tape into the VCR and the mysteriously unsettling footage therein appears on your screen, you--John or Jane Q. Couch Potato--get a momentary neck-prickle of your own impending doom. Ringu is in many ways a very conventional horror film, disappointingly so in spots, but Hiroshi Takahashi's screenplay (based on a big-in-Japan series of novels by Kôji Suzuki) provides plenty of original twists, and directors Hideo Nakata and Chisui Takigawa wring the material for maximum creep. Rental copies may be a little hard to find, but Ringu is well worth tracking down--especially before the original gets shunted aside by a reported DreamWorks remake.