The use of sound within films has now become an essential part of the film-going experience, as the use of sound can create a deeper emotional connection to the narrative story of a film. The sound is immensely important in horror films as they can create tension without the use of dialogue and unsettle the viewer’s emotion, Ringu (1998) is a prime example of how sound can influence the viewer. Ringu (1998) uses rough and raw sound to create an atmosphere of fear mixed with normality, such as the normality of a person’s footsteps in a day-lit park to a dimly lit hallway with only the light from the light of a hallway mixed with elemental sounds of violins playing.
The way Hideo Nakata amplifies the sound of mundane objects such as a telephone ringing tone, a Polaroid camera and general ambient noses, can make a viewer emotionally unstable as Hideo intends to create fear in everything around the characters. The telephone ringing sound breaks the viewers’ attention as Hideo begins to build the tension. The Polaroid camera is used to for the sound of the flash so the viewer is stunned for a second while Hideo begins to build the tension within the scene once again.
Hideo’s use of white noise in the beginning of the movie creates a tone of being unsettled, this also creates an atmosphere of fear and anticipation in the viewer. The use of static when viewing the ‘ring-video’ creates a jump scare within the viewer, allowing the tension to build within the viewer’s emotions, until the climax of the ‘ring-video’ where it is a low-resolution shot of a field with a water- well in the middle of the field. This type of sound can be described as being elemental as the sounds themselves are recognisable, yet the way Hideo uses the sounds still creating an element of fear within the viewer.
In the final scene of the film, Hideo reaches a climax in his sound design, as he plays with the viewer’s emotions playing music that is meant to create a feeling of cheerfulness and calmness then shattering the viewer’s emotions as the TV begins to play the ‘ring-video’ once again. The sound of a screeching piano wire begins to get louder and louder, faster and faster. Creating more and more fear within the viewer with each screech of the piano wire. This use of sound increases the feeling of tension and fear within a scene without having any dialogue.
Hideo uses sound to set the tone for each day as they pass by, giving the viewer a sense of something negative will happen on a certain day and on another day, something positive will happen. This overall makes Ringu (1998) use of sound effective in creating fear and tension in scenes with little or no dialogue.
Ring. 1998. [Film] Directed by Hideo Nakata. Japan: Asmik Ace Entertainment.