Ring 0: Birthday (リング0: バースデイ Ringu Zero: Bāsudei) is a 2000 Japanese psychological horror film. It is the prequel to the film Ring and the fourth and final installment in the original Japanese Ringu series. It was directed by Norio Tsuruta, based on a screenplay by Hiroshi Takahashi. The film's screenplay is based on the short story Lemonheart from The Birthday anthology by Koji Suzuki.
The film takes place 30 years prior to the events of Ring, and depicts the life of 19-year-old Sadako Yamamura (Yukie Nakama), the antagonist of previous films. In this film, her role shifts to that of a protagonist.
The story begins with a reporter named Miyaji Akiko, whose fiancé was a reporter killed during Shizuko's ESP demonstration. As she attempts to gather more information on Sadako's past from a grade school Sadako stayed at. Akiko met the Sadako's governess, who stated that Sadako doesn't have any pictures, and that she was a very pretty girl. She also told a story about how Sadako tried to warn the other students (who were going swimming) that they would die if they go in the sea. It was later reported that all the students did die.
Miyaji then begun searching for information from Sadako's therapist, who claims that Sadako was a normal girl and refused to help. Meanwhile, Sadako herself joins an acting troupe as a form of therapy as advised by her therapist. Sadako remains quiet and keeps to herself causing other troupe members to hate her as she creeps them out. But other members of the acting troupe, saw that she has talent in acting. At the time, another girl (who had been mean to Sadako) played the main role in the troupe's play. The lead actress then suffers a mysterious death by an unknown person dressed in white. As the result, Sadako receievs the main role (which suits her nice and quiet personality). Soon enough, Sadako falls in love with one of the members of the troupe, Hiroshi Toyama (Seiichi Tanabe). She is continually tormented by her own psychic abilities and the hatred from members of her troupe. Some troupe members then experience the same dream where they see a well and an old house, and blame it all on Sadako's presence. And they also experienced added supernatural activities. Meanwhile, Miyaji met with Sadako's governess again, who told her the story of Sadako's mother (who also had supernatural power) was also nice but was soon driven mad after she and Sadako moved to Dr. Ikuma's house (a character which also appeared in Ringu), as she would make a horrible face after looking in the mirror. Back at the troupe, as Sadako and Toyama talk, she sees the dead girl's ghost who pointed at her implying that Sadako killed her, causing Sadako fear and confusion. These events causes Toyama to be concerned, only to be interrupted by the director, who said that Sadako did incredibly well in the play.
As the film progresses, Sadako and Toyama begins to understand each other more and become close friends. Miyaji found out that Sadako was acting in the troupe and confronted her, taking pictures of her, only to be interrupted by an invincible force thus breaking the camera. Miyaji soon discovers the disturbing truth that the entire troupe has become "cursed" by Sadako's presence. A ghostly face is seen in every pictures of the troupe members. A "Second" Sadako, appears next to the real Sadako when her photo was taken. "Second" Sadako is believed to be an evil child who is responsible for the deaths of the reporters at the ESP demonstration. Miyaji's colleague advised her not to put this on an article. Miyaji then replied that this was never meant for an article, as she seeks revenge for her fiancé . At the opening day of the troupe's play, one of Toyama's co-workers is able to help Miyaji in playing the recording of the ESP demonstration. Upon hearing this while on stage, Sadako remembered that day. Sadako sees the ghosts of all the dead reporters from the event, pointing at her, along with her mother's ghost (or hallucination) standing afar with a gently smile. Sadako's mother is seen trying to tell her something, but disappeared before she could say it. Sadako once again loses control of her psychic abilities, thus destroying the stage and killing the doctor who had been counseling her. It was reviewed that it was the second Sadako who killed the doctor, not Sadako.
The rest of the troupe (except for Toyama) then gangs up on Sadako blaming her for the recent deaths that occurred. Sadako pleads to them to let her be, causing things to fly away and breaking the mirror into pieces. The troupe's members brutally beat her, leaving her seemingly dead. Toyama is devastated as he looks upon a seemingly dead Sadako. Miyaji then tells them of the "Second Sadako", and that they must rid themselves of this child Sadako as well in order to survive. Arriving at Sadako's old home, Dr. Ikuma explains that one day Sadako split into two. A human side, that was like her mother. And a side that takes after her "real" father. He is then horrified when he finds that the troupe members have bought the real Sadako to his house. He informs them that he had been using drugs to keep the second Sadako from growing up, and that they are in grave danger for reuniting the two Sadakos. Toyama is shocked when his Sadako revives. The pair attempt to flee through the woods, but Sadako soon collapses. She pleads with him to leave her before it is too late, but Toyama refuses. And they continue on.
After running to the edge of a cliff, Sadako is suddenly overcome by her "second" self, and kills Toyama. Toyama dies as he tells Sadako that he loves her. Eventually, Sadako kills the rest of the acting troupe one by one, leaving Miyaji and a girl still alive but unable to move. Miyaji then helped the girl to go across the woods in horror, as Sadako was chasing them creepily and slowly, with her hair covering her face. Miyaji and the girl hide in a cottage, which Sadako manages to find. Sadako then confronts them in an inhuman fashion, as the two girls watch in horror, Miyaji uses her gun to kill herself and the girl before Sadako could take them. After the death of Miyaji, she then comes to her senses and mourns her actions. Sadako's adoptive father, Dr. Ikuma, decides that he must destroy her. He drugs Sadako by injecting her with poison. She escapes and crawls to the family well. She sees Ikuma coming towards her with a wood-splitting axe. She pleads for her life, but Ikuma brings down the blade on her head. Ikuma brings down the axe again, and throws the body down the dark well. Sadako, wakes and sees her lover (Tomoya), but soon realizes it was just a hallucination. As she realizes where she is, she looks up in time to see a stone being slid into place, sealing her alive inside and cutting off her screams.
- Yukie Nakama as Sadako Yamamura
- Seiichi Tanabe as Hiroshi Tôyama
- Kumiko Asô asEtsuko Tachihara
- Takeshi Wakamatsu as Yûsaku Shigemori
- Ryûshi Mizukami as Wataru Kuno
- Kaoru Okunuki as Aiko Hazuki
- Yasushi Kimura as Togashi
- Mami Hashimoto as Joshikôsei
- Daisuke Ban as Heihachirô Ikuma
- Masako as Shizuko Yamamura
- Mahito Ôba as Takashi Yamamura
- Yoshiko Tanaka as Akiko Miyaji
- Atsuko Takahata as Kaoru Arima
- The play performed by Sadako's acting troupe is an adaption of Eyes Without a Face, entitled "The Mask".In one particular shot, Etsuko (played by Asou Kumiko) went backstage for a scene in which no other person should have been present. And yet, in this scene, one can plainly see a small hand poking out from behind one of the dresses.
- The film introduce the concept of Two Sadakos which is not present in the novel. After the ESP demonstration, Sadako split into two, the good and the bad.