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The Ring

2002 American remake of the 1998 Japanese horror film, Ring (also known as Ringu)

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See the DVD... I don't quite dare watch the videotape.

  • Oct 11, 2003
Rating:
+3
...Still, it wasn't a bad film by any means. I might not agree with others that it was the scariest movie ever, but I thought it was skillfully-made and had some genuinely creepy moments. I really liked the overall atmosphere it created, and the effects were subtle, for the most part, not overdone. The meat of it is that I enjoyed it. It's a good scary movie, though classics like "The Haunting" are still scarier.

The thing I think I appreciated most about "The Ring" is that it wasn't trying to be a "hip" scary movie, like the "Scream" series or its many clones. It was a serious, genuine attempt at a classic horror film.

The first 5 to 10 minutes of "The Ring" probably represents the most genuinely scary part of the whole movie. This was a good way to go, as it certainly put me on edge for the rest of the movie.

When one starts looking at particulars, it gets even better. The main subject of the film (as is probably well-known by now) is a videotape which, once watched, somehow guarantees that the person who watched it will die in exactly seven days. The reason for this is somewhat explained by the end of the film. As a video geek, I liked some of the details thrown in about the tape itself, such as the fact (revealed fairly early) that it has no timecode track, and any copies made similarly have no time track. As a practical matter, this is pretty much an impossibility. Which is why this detail creeped me out quite a bit, and certainly lent a great deal to the mystery of the origin of the tape.

Another nice detail was the way the images from the tape are worked into the days that follow. It's not made obvious in all cases, as in through a flashback or anything, but if one is observant pretty much every disturbing image from the tape (and there are some very disturbing images) is reflected in a similar image in the events after it is viewed. One exception to this turned out to be in a deleted scene on the DVD, so it was clearly intentional, even if not quite completely carried out. Some of the parallels between "real life" and the tape are subtle, but they are definitely there.

One really surprising thing about the film was the music, which was understated and subtle throughout. This is not surprising in itself, but it is when you consider the composer. I thought perhaps it might have been Maurice Jarre or even Thomas Newman, with their tendency towards quiet undertones and ambient sounds. The surprise came at the end when I saw in the credits that Hans Zimmer, usually author of skilled but over-the-top scores such as "Gladiator" or "Mission: Impossible 2," had worked on "The Ring." I admire Zimmer and I enjoy his scores in general, but he truly outdid himself for this film. The music is a strong counterpoint to the atmosphere of the movie, and Zimmer abandoned his usually-identifiable style and allowed the tone of the film to set the tone of his score. He had a soft touch with the music, for once, and it really added a great deal to the movie.

As for the scary stuff, there was plenty there to be found. Though I have to say, "The Ring" is not so much scary as it is intense. Somewhat like "The Blair Witch Project," "The Ring" sets up an effective tone early on, and never really lets up. Through a steady series of surprises, it manages to keep the audience guessing about what's going to happen next. I won't give away any of the specifics, because if you haven't seen it yet then they're best seen fresh, and my description likely wouldn't do it justice anyway. But basically, as you watch the film and think that something can't happen, that what's about to happen is impossible... that's when it does. I had several "gasp" moments during the film, because it managed to surprise me several times. And the effects were done well enough that even such impossiblities remained convincing. The scares in "The Ring" are well-placed and skillfully executed. During the film I was sucked right into it, only afterwards could I start to appreciate how well it had been done.

The end result is that "The Ring" is a good, solid horror film, and makes no pretensions otherwise. Though not as good as some of the classics, it definitely hearkens back to the days of movies like "The Haunting" or "Rosemary's Baby," as one of those rare horror movies that simply accomplishes what it sets out to do - scare the heck out of you - and is satisfied. Which is not to say there is not some social commentary inherent in the film, even though it takes a back seat to the story. The fact that the film's terrors reach us through our new media - television, video, and telephone - says something about the pervasiveness of these media. We trust them implicitly as methods of communication and modes of entertainment. "The Ring" seems to suggest that this trust is not earned, that these media can be used for evil as much as they can be used for good. That message blinking on the answering machine is an unknown quantity until you listen to it, that videotape is a mystery until you watch it, and a screen full of static may be the most frightening thing of all.

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More The Ring reviews
review by . October 25, 2009
I have to preface this review by saying that I didn't actually see Ringu, but I've often heard that Ringu is scary as all hell.  So one day I'll see that.  On the other hand, I did enjoy The Ring and I thought some of its instances were quite good.  However, it is worth saying... The Ring has been branded (unfairly so) as a horror movie.  It isn't actually that much of a horror movie.  It's a Mystery/Suspense.  It has a couple of scary moments--some of which terrified …
review by . May 16, 2009
I'm use to seeing horror movies with zombies, vampires, blood and gore so when I saw this movie it really gave me the creeps. I don't know if it was all the hype behind the movie or the movie itself ,but the movie had us (my sister, niece and I) so scare that we did not want to answer the phone when it ringed.  That was probably because our house phone ringed right after seeing the 'ring video tape' on the movie.  There was not much detail as to why the little girl in the ring had …
review by . April 23, 2009
I'm not entirely on board with many of the J-horror remakes - there seems to be something deeply entrenched in the Japanese psyche that doesn't translate well (if anyone reading this is from Japan, please let me know why little girls are so paralyzingly scary, because I've always suspected that they are).   I don't think The Grudge pulled it off: if you were a neighbor of that house, you'd definitely wonder what in the hell is going on. Literally everyone who enters the house is dead: …
review by . May 02, 2009
Cheap thrills. That's a summary of the entire film. The Ring (2002) is a dumbed down Hollywood version of the Japanese horror film Ringu (1999). The Ring is actually two movies in one, it combines both elements of Ringu and Ringu 2. Instead of making a straight horror ghost story like the Japanese version, The Ring suffers from the old scheme of trying too hard. Yes, it tries to be scary, hip and an instant classic. The movie fails on all three levels. The subliminal scenes are of old hat nature, …
review by . June 22, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
(3.5 *'s) Nearly into the first thirty-five minutes of `The Ring' I got so many jolts, I nearly turned the DVD off. Popular, and often revered by horror fans, the film renders a favorably mixed bag. Conceptually it frightens and fascinates even if its premise is hokey, and there are many rules of thumb that are broken or inconsistent. Still, I was glad to take the journey. If the goal of a horror movie is to scare and tell a story, then the film truly has the goods to deliver.    The …
review by . April 20, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: ....     Cons: ......     The Bottom Line: ___________        I’ve often watched a movie and wondered if I am going to die from watching it but I never assumed that such a thing could really happen. The video in this particular movie has some supernatural power to it so that once viewed the watcher dies exactly one week after watching it. Hey, I’d steer clear of the thing, especially since the glimpses I saw of it …
review by . November 01, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
THE RING is one of those films that makes you wish the writer and editor and director had spent more time with the released project. This little fright film houses some fine effects, gets you hooked into an almost implausible concept, and then sells out to sensationalism in the end. But the cast of actors includes Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson as contemporary lovers who have a strangely sensitive son (well played by young David Dorfman), Jane Alexander at her usual fine state as a physician, …
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Rich Stoehr ()
I often hide behind a pithy Douglas Adams quote or maybe some song lyrics. I guess it makes sense that much of what I share is reviews of things I like (or don't).      People … more
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Disturbing images and a few good shocks don't stopThe Ringfrom being a hash of half-baked ideas. It's the kind of frightfest you'll watch to set a chilling mood or spook your susceptible friends, but when you try to sort it out, this well-mounted American remake (of the 1998 Japanese hitRingu, based on Koji Suzuki's popular novel) collapses into a heap of incoherent parts. The negligible plot follows a Seattle reporter (Naomi Watts) as she investigates the death of her niece, the victim of a mysterious videotape that, according to vague urban legend, causes the viewer's death seven days later. (Fear Dot Comborrowed the same idea while avoiding this film's lofty pretensions.) The reporter, her son, and her estranged boyfriend view the tape, and the film's countdown structure follows them into deepening layers of terror--all quite effective until the movie attempts to explain itself. At that you're better off shutting down your brain and letting the creepy visuals take over.--Jeff Shannon
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