Norio Tsuruta, who helped usher in the boom in J-horror movies, breaks new ground with his latest film, “The Perilous Internet Ring,” shot in China.
The story begins when college student Xiaonuo (played by Sun Yihan) receives a frantic phone call from her cousin who says she is scared.
The next day, Xiaonuo finds his cousin’s body.
The police say she committed suicide, but Xiaonuo is not convinced.
She then reads an online novel that was left on her cousin’s personal computer and is haunted by hallucinations and delusions.
A spate of unnatural deaths occurs in her neighborhood, and it is discovered that the victims had one thing in common: they were reading an online novel.
Tsuruta, whose works include “Ring 0: Birthday,” said he was asked by a Chinese film company to make a full-fledged J-horror in 2016.
“When I started writing the script, I was told, ‘The Chinese government would not approve a film depicting ghosts as real entities,'” he said. “I thought, how could I make J-horror?”
With a producer who is a member of the Chinese Communist Party joining the production as a supervisor, Tsuruta began working on the project despite being on a short leash.
“I didn’t want to have ‘it was all a dream.’‘ end, so I came up with a story set in a virtual reality world, but then it was also rejected, saying that content that abuses cutting-edge technology cannot be allowed,” he continued.
Around the same time, he became aware of the “Blue Whale” incident, which caused a serious social problem in China, revolving around an Internet phenomenon in which participants incited other users in remote areas to commit suicide.
About a year later, a script written by a third screenwriter was approved by the government’s screening process.
The finished film tricks audiences into thinking it’s a horror film with an apparition similar to the long-haired ghost of Sadako, before turning into the perfect crime-solving story with the help of a police investigation.
Unexpectedly, it became a new genre film that mixes J-horror and mystery elements.
“When I complained about the script, the producer immediately said, ‘OK‘ and fired the screenwriter,” said the director. “Decisions are made so quickly in China. I learned that we can make good films if we can make good use of Chinese boldness and Japanese subtlety.”
“The Perilous Internet Ring” is currently showing in Japan.