Arguably an altogether more successful film than "Ringu." The story maintains a tighter focus and Hideo Nakata makes great use of the main character's apartment as a tool to reflect her deteriorating psychology, a la "The Yellow Wallpaper." The definition of a 'slow burn,' the film does lose marks for the long stretches in which it feels less like a horror film and more like a drama about a nasty custody battle.
2 plot point prevent me from rating this higher I.) What motivates Yoshimi to take the apartment when it's made painfully clear that she thinks it's a dump. II.) Why does Yoshimi let her daughter go after fighting so hard for here. (You can say it's metaphorical but I really don't buy that). Wouldn't it have made more sense to report the body to the police so the spirit may be freed?
I remember watching the American remake when I was little, the Japanese version is so much better. It's such a heartbreaking story about what a mother will do for her child that's disguised as a horror film. I wasn't left scared as much as I was left teary-eyed.
Though I don't think Nakata quite drums up either the abject terror or emotional resonance he's aiming for, the film is still an effectively sorrowful character study anchored by the wonderful Hitomi Kuroki and the insufferably adorable Rio Kanno.
Not a horror movie really but more in the line of a mystery/drama/tragedy with a emotionally harrowing ending. The cast is very good as is the grimy production design. But the real star here is the music and sound design which manages to create an eerie atmosphere on its own. The direction is solid and things progress weith an ominous slow burn touch.