The Ring
3/4
poster

Details & Information from IMDB

Genre Horror
Year 2002
Duration 115 min
Rating 7.3 out of 10
Description: Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) is a young journalist with a divorced husband, Noah (Martin Henderson), and a son, Aidan (David Dorfman). Her niece was recently found dead with a look of pure shock embedded in her face as if something scared her to death. Upon learning that her niece's three friends died at the same time, too, and hearing about a disturbing videotape that is said to kill you seven days after watching it, Rachel comes into the possession of that same tape. Now, as time grows short, Rachel and Noah race to save their lives from impending doom and discover what the tape has to do with a tragedy-stricken horse ranch and a very strange little girl named Samara (Daveigh Chase)...
Comments: I'm just as much a fan of gory, splatterhouse exploitation films as the next sicko, but when it comes to generating a chill down the spine, there is something to be said for being as terse as possible with onscreen imagery. This is one of the chief reasons why The Ring--a film with a PG-13 rating--is so successful in its ability to leave an audience with goosebumps and nightmares.

The film is a remake of the 1998 Japanese film Ringu, itself widely considered a terrifying piece of cinema, and aside from a subplot about horses, the American version is very faithful to the original.

Now, being that The Ring is a remake, one may be tempted to dismiss the power of the story and script as unoriginal. But as other films have demonstrated time and time again, a remake, no matter how good the source material, can just as easily fall flat on its face ("The Haunting", "Psycho", etc.). So it's a joy to see that this remake stands out as one of the better films of the year despite emerging from the shadow of a great and recent original.

The Ring follows journalist Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) as she investigates the mysterious death of her niece (revealed in the gripping opening sequence). At the wake for her niece, she overhears some friends discussing the videotape that the niece and her boyfriend watched the week before their death. Given their cryptic description of the tape and the fact that the boyfriend died across town at the same time as the niece, Keller decides to track down the tape for herself and watch it for clues.

She then begins to experience a number of strange coincidences, as she sees objects from the video appear in her every day life. When her friend and son watch the video as well and begin to see similar objects, she begins to realize that the stories about the tape may be real. She is then led to a small island off the coast to search for an answer on where the tape came from and why it has the effect that it does.

Whomever it was that composed the actual videotape for this film (and the audience does get to see the whole thing) clearly did a great deal of research on disturbing imagery. It's grainy, monochromatic and at times bordering on silly, but by the time it is shown you have become immersed in the story and it works; the images truly get under your skin.

For fans of subtle, atmospheric and extremely creepy movies, especially around this time of year, The Ring is a dead-on success. The brilliantly understated story moves swiftly, is told beautifully, and enough questions are left unanswered to maximize the mystery of it all, yet not so many that the plot is left full of holes. The music is sparse and atmospheric, and the images are beautifully shot and edited, with great use of filters and composites to give the appropriate washed out looks where necessary. The effects, used minimally, are flawless and very creepy without seeming garish or overbearing.

As with classics like The Changeling and 1963's The Haunting, The Ring is a perfect example of how you can still muster a scare from a jaded populace without resorting to cheap jolts and gore. More Blair Witch Project than Sleepaway Camp, and thus far more impressive than most recent attempts at terror. Now if I could just stop hiding from my television...