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Ring, The (DVD)
The Ring is the critically acclaimed, smash hit thriller David Ansen of Newsweek says "raises some serious goosebumps!" This cinemat ic thrill r ide will keep you on the edge of your seat from the stunning opening to the astonishing conclusion! It begins as just ano ther urban legend - th e whispered tale of a nightmarish videotape that causes anyone who watch es it to die seven days later. But whe n four teenagers all meet with my sterious deaths exactly one week after watching just such a tape, invest igative reporter Rachel Kel ler (Naomi Watts) tracks down the video...an d watches it. Now, the legend is coming true, the clock is ticking and R achel has just s even days to unravel the mystery of The Ring.]]>
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The DVD has zero special features, however, so the Blu-ray is the better option.
And sadly, most current "horror" movies lack horror, because it's easier to substitute it with screaming blondes, blood, guts and sharp objects. But "The Ring" is soaked in foreboding, creepiness and horrific imagery. Director Gore Verbinski relies heavily on the original Japanese movie for a lot of his remake's flavor, and the result is a slow-building terror that keeps twisting right up to the end.
Single mum Rachel (Naomi Watts) is attending her niece's funeral, after she died under bizarre circumstances. Several of her friends died on the exact same day, at the same time, which (surprise surprise) makes Rachel think this isn't a coincidence. So she investigates the mountain cabin all the kids stayed at a week ago, and finds an unlabeled videotape with a series of bizarre images -- and a curse that will kill you one week afterwards.
She enlists the help of her ex-boyfriend Noah (Martin Henderson) to help her unravel and break the curse. The secret of the tape is wrapped up in a young girl, Samara, who vanished from her adoptive parents' horse farm years ago. Somehow Samara's evil rage has lived in on her curse, and it will destroy Rachel, Noah and their son unless Rachel can find a way to escape it.
Remaking Asian horror movies is one of those movie trends that is hanging on in Hollywood, with everything from "The Grudge" to "The Eye" to "Bangkok Dangerous" getting the A-list Hollywood treatment. Some are good, some are mediocre, most are wretched. But "The Ring" was the first of these, adapted from Hideo Nakata's adaptation of Koji Suzuki's novel (cue cries of "but the original was better). And it achieves the distinction of being almost as atmospheric and haunting as the original.
Most of its brilliance comes from director Gore Verbinski, who thankfully did not simply use the name and concept, and invent a teenybopper plot around that. This is actually rather similar to Nakata's adaptation -- Verbinski alters some few things from the original film, but keeps the same dark, murky atmosphere and many of the same scenes. Even the cinematography has a dark, overcast look, filled with forbidding symbolism -- lots of grey skies and overflowing water. It's as if Samara's influence is permeating everything.
And what about the horror? It comes from the building tension as Rachel's deadline creeps toward us, and brief flashes of Samara's influence -- for example, that poor horse going berserk on a ferry, or the blurred-out faces of the doomed. The entire movie is infused with the feeling that something invisible and ghastly is just waiting to attack you, and it's just waiting for the right moment.
The keystone of this movie is Naomi Watts. This talented actress is virtually perfect as the perpetually worried, perplexed Rachel; as the deadline approaches, her fear and grief are almost palpably overwhelming. Henderson is also good, whether as a flip carefree artist or as a caring ex-boyfriend. Dorfman is the one disappointment -- he seems less like a little boy than a pompous oracle, and he's almost creepier than Samara.
Which is saying something, because Daveigh Chase is utterly chilling as Samara Morgan, a creepy little devil-child with black weedy hair over her face, a white nightgown and "Omen" eyes. In keeping with the watery theme of the movie, she always seems vaguely damp.
"The Ring" is one of those rarest kinds of movies -- a remake with its own flavour, even as it sticks to the original story. Excellent direction, great acting, and the haunting determination to never, ever watch an unlabeled movie again.
First, the premise: An urban legend that watching this particular video, receiving a phone call immediately after watching will cause your death in exactly seven days. Don't we pooh-pooh urban legends? "The Ring" makes us consider their validity.
Second, the video itself. Where did it come from? Who made it? How? Why? So many questions, none answered, ever.
Third, again the video. What do the scenes represent? The strange, surreal images?
That brings in Naomi Watts' character, a reporter doubly bound in the story, first through her son, not unlike the boy in "The Sixth Sense" with his sixth sense for the supernatural. Aiden is definitely attuned to the other world.
Secondly, Rachal is bound to the story through her research. Her niece watched the movie and died horribly seven days later. Rachal first watches the tape, then begins investigating the images. One by one she peels off the layers of this gothic mystery/puzzle/freakshow.
Rachal's appearance in the movie parallels the changes with the story. At the beginning she is frankly beautiful, cool and assured. As revelations unfold and she begins to experience frisson, she begins a shift in appearance, becoming rumpled. By movie's end she is almost gray, as if psychologically preparing to join the urban legend dead.
The viewer's frisson builds. The ending is a nightmare. "The Ring" is definitely a cerebral experience in terror.
One of those fast flashes of film reveals this: "Live birth." An intriguing bit of information that many viewers and reviewers missed or I misinterpreted. It explains better what happens at the well between Anna and Samara.
A definite see-again movie!!
Special recognition goes to Jeffrey Leach for his superb review. Please read his for a great overview of this haunting film.
comedy to me than frightening. One is tempted in many
horror films to make one liner jokes and to belittle the
movie after the viewing. There is no such temptation with
this film. As always, the most frightening films are those
which play upon what you imagine, especially when combined with
that element of the psyche which is DISTURBED. Many of the reviewers which have low rated this film, or called it boring
because "nothing happens" apparently have subsisted on hack and
slash movies. This one utilizes a far deeper, more elemental
fear: madness, children, rejection leading to revenge, and supernatural pre and post grave powers. The lighting, angles,
relief that it's over and all is well (Oh no it isn't) techniques which areeffective in some films and laughable in others are quite spooky here. If you want to see buckets of blood, look elsewhere. If you'refrustrated because every detail is not in perfect logical order,read a textbook. If you have an imagination and want to be frightened, watch this (as I did) on a dark rainy night!