50 terrifying movie moments

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Time Out's film team's run-down of the scariest scenes in cinema

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Ringu (1998)

Dir Hideo Nakata (Nanako Matsushima, Miki Nakatani)

Video killed the... well, everyone

*SPOILER ALERT*COLOUR>
The just-when-you-thought-it-was-safe ending is an established horror classic. Kill the monster, destroy the threat, get everyone back to normal and then – bam! – a hand from the grave, a dwarf in the dark, a flicker on the motel TV screen. But none of these can hold a guttering candle to the closing scene of Nakata’s electrifying 1998 masterpiece, the film which shook horror out of its self-regarding post-‘Scream’ stupor and reminded audiences what a real scary movie was all about: no screeching teens, no splattering gore, no CGI, just great high-concept thrills, terrific performances, a mounting sense of terror and one epic shock.

In fact, it’s the very lo-fi nature of the scene which makes it such a nightmare. The high concept of the ‘Ring’ series – a video tape which, if watched, results in death within seven days – could easily have been ruined by a high-style approach. By keeping things spare, murky and ominous, Nakata creates a constant tone of doom and dread. But a build-up is nothing without a pay-off, and here Nakata proves his genius, creating pure horror from nothing more than a flickering TV screen, a repetitive metallic sound and Rie Ino’o’s phenomenally inhuman, lurching Noh-inspired performance as the evil spirit Sadako. TH


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