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The Ring

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

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An Amusing Mystery and Suspense Film

  • Oct 25, 2009
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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 audiences.  But the movie doesn't really seem to hit the chord of being a true-blue horror movie.  The Ring is a good mystery of a movie.  And yes, for those who jump you might find yourself scared. 

I've never been big on whether or not adaptations get everything right.  I've always believed that two entities must stand on their own.  Not only is there a japanese film called Ringu which this one is based off of, but there's also a book on this movie as well.  But most people have probably never even heard of it.  So just keep in mind that even if I had seen Ringu or read the book it was based off of (I've tried to find it... no luck) I'd still believe The Ring should be viewed as its own thing and not necessarily as something else.  I suppose the reason why I enjoyed The Ring when it first came around is because it was very different at the time.  Nowadays the whole, "Let's Americanize a Japanese Horror Film," has become so standard and annoying that it's no fun anymore. 

On the other hand, at the time, The Ring was a little different.  The story is pretty well known nowadays.  Rachel (played by Naomi Watts) is a journalist who has a niece who died after watching a mysterious tape.  It turns out there's a lot more to Rachel's niece than she thought.  She went to a cabin where they found the tape and watched.  Did her niece know she was going to die?  Apparently so.  Rachel, being an investigative journalist, decides to check this out.  It seems like nothing more than a high school rumor.  Until Rachel goes out to the cabin and watches the tape herself.  It's filled nothing but strange, obtuse images that she doesn't understand.  After the tape is done she gets a phone call from a girl that only whispers "Seven days."  Once that happens, you've only got seven days to live.  For Rachel this becomes a race against time.  Can she unravel the mystery of The Ring and save herself?  Or is she doomed?  This becomes the premise.  And as she roams around she begins to see the very images she sees on the tape.  After copious amounts of research, Rachel slowly begins to piece things together.

If there's anything about The Ring which does work, it would be that the movie moves at a really good pace.  We see each and every day that Rachel goes through after viewing the tape, and all the images that she sees but for the most part, there's not a moment when the movie moves slowly.  There are a couple of creepy images, but there's nothing about the movie which screams true-blue horror.  There's no blood and gore or anything like that (it is rated PG-13 after all), but there is a lot of suspense.  It's easy to become curious as to how Rachel will solve the mystery.  The real fear from the movie comes from us worrying about the main character than not.  Perhaps the only part that is truly scary is the film's unique climax. 

Despite not really being horror, it is nice that The Ring does separate itself from some of the typical horror stuff.  It gets labeled a horror because it's scary (as if being scary is the only thing which defines horror), but perhaps why it gets that way is because we become curious about the mystery ourselves.  And as a result of this we're getting a different kind of horror.  A more psychological kind of terror.  There's no mad man running around with a blade or anything like that, but you are getting a story that tries to engage your mind.  Most of it isn't scary... but the fear bone--like the funny bone--is located in different places on different people.  This first film happens to have a more psychological kind of fear.  Some people describe this kind of movie as a "mindfuck," but The Ring is hardly that.  It doesn't do much to try to trick you or mess with your head.  It simply gives you a lot of images that all come together and mean something.  Along with Rachel you're engaged in trying to figure it all out.  For the most part, the story is fairly straightforward.  It has a few twists and turns, but it never once rises up or even tries to be a bloodfest.  There's no running from Point A to Point B or anything like that either.  In fact, throughout much of the movie none of the characters seem to panic at being in the situation they're in.

For the horror enthusiasts that feeds off blood and gore and characters screaming and running from whatever it is that happens to be after them... The Ring isn't for you.  The movie is actually quite subtle.  It moves at a pretty fast and moderate pace, but it's not an action packed film that will end up making you scream.  You may, from time to time, feel anxious or even fear for how Rachel will get out of her situation, but that's really about it.  For the most part the only real fear the movie provokes is your curiosity for how Rachel will survive.

In spite of its interesting premise and mystery, The Ring does have a couple of things that can be bothersome.  The mystery is enticing and intriguing but the movie certainly doesn't put forth a lot of effort in the character development.  We become curious as to how Rachel survives, but many of the movies characters just come off as being wooden.  In some cases (such as Martin Henderson's Noah) they're introduced unexpectedly.  It comes off more as a convenience that Rachel knows him.  They clearly have history but the movie almost never touches upon it in anyway.  So much so that when you find out that the kid in the movie is actually Rachel and Noah's son it comes off as tacked on more so than anything.  And this is primarily because we learn NOTHING about these characters.  Speaking of which, something can also be said about the "creepy child," that you see in this film.  In a time when the creepy kid was already overdone, The Ring manages to make the child creepy but also not very human at all.  He is by far the most wooden and stale character of any of the cast.  In fact, many of the people that Rachel runs into and questions are more interesting than Rachel, Noah or their son.  We don't learn anything about them either, but they still manage to come off as more interesting.

Were it not for the mystery of the tape, or wondering how Rachel would survive the ordeal, The Ring might not be much of a movie worth watching.  It has a great situation... just not great characters thrown into the mix.  At the least, Naomi Watts does give a pretty good performance, and while her character is dull, Naomi Watts is talented enough and charismatic enough to be worth watching on screen.  It's actually a rare moment where the premise and situation is good enough that the characters don't have to be.  On the other the movie might've been infinitely better had we not had to deal with Rachel's son... who's so robotic that the Terminator looks really cute and cuddly. 

It's worth watching at least once. The mystery isn't nearly as interesting otherwise, but you might pick up on more of the hints that are sprinkled throughout.  You might not care about the characters so much (and to an extent they're pretty forgettable) but you might still be curious about Rachel's own survival.  Is it scary?  Parts of it can be, but on the whole, The Ring keeps you much more entranced with suspense than anything else. 

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October 30, 2009
This was a decent for a remake of a J-horror movie. It does capture the original almost shot-for-shot but for some reason, while this movie was more visually enhanced, the original maintained an aura of grim, unsettling and even very scary feel. The major difference is the ending, this was afraid to add the needed exclamation point while the Japanese original went all the way...Great review. I'll be dropping a review for RINGU this weekend.
More The Ring reviews
review by . December 26, 2012
High production quality (especially for a horror movie), detestable main character-- I'm rather ambivalent when it comes to Naomi Watts, but it's her shallow character that brings down this movie-- it's never explained why she's an awful human being, and I love awful human beings WHEN THEY'RE EXPLAINED. Nonetheless, I would describe this movie as "eerie" and not "scary". The actual film within the film is weird and unsettling, A+ on that. Admittedly I love …
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 . April 01, 2004
I decided to buy this movie on the talk about it alone... I am glad that I did. I decided to watch it by myself, in the dark on a stormy night, with my bowl of popcorn, pop, pillow & blankie. I must confess that MANY, MANY times the blankie was very close to my eyes as The Ring is LOADED with HIGHLY disturbing images, jumpy parts that made me yell aloud more than once, and the ultimate dark scene with a a scary dead girl coming out of a TV!Interesting premise of viewing a video, getting a scary …
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, …
review by . October 11, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
...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 …
review by . May 25, 2003
Ok, I'm a girl, and going against my friend's reccomendations I watched this movie alone, in the dark at 3 am.   I slept fine.  This was not scary, it's all about halluciantions, and suspence, but nothing gruesome really happens. Not one drop of blood is spilled.  This movie left me with more questions than answers. I'd love to do a national survey and ask people what they found scary about htis. I know this review might not explain what I feel but, this movie is full …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … 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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