Ring, The (2002)

Reviewed By Preston Jones
Posted 11/20/02 12:40:31

"Seven days..."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

You have to hand it to Hollywood. For every worthless remake they foist upon unsuspecting audiences, there is occasionally that one gem that escapes and reminds those that plunk down their cash why they come at all.

One such example of a worthwhile remake is director Gore Verbinski’s take on the 1998 Japanese blockbuster Ringu, done over stateside into The Ring, a spine-tingling thriller that help goose a lifeless genre—thanks bunches, Scream trilogy—into relevance again.
Suspense without copious gore has enjoyed a bit of a revival in the last few years; witness Spanish whiz Alejandro Amenabar’s 2001 nail-biter The Others, as well as Guillermo Del Toro’s 2001 creep fest The Devil’s Backbone, and of course, we can’t forget the godfather of the new suspense cinema, M. Night Shyamalan, with his blockbuster hits The Sixth Sense and this year’s Signs.
The Ring opens with a tightly constructed prologue that will definitely get your heart pumping. Thankfully, the film doesn’t resort to reducing the plot into slasher flick clichés and retains an eerie air of deadly seriousness.
Once the events of the opening are past, the film picks up with Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) following the trail of a mysterious videotape that kills its viewers exactly one week after they lay eyes on it—purportedly, you see a “ring” before expiring in a gruesome fashion.
Determined to uncover the mystery behind the videotape, Rachel views it and becomes marked for death. Enlisting the help of her former flame Noah (Martin Henderson), Rachel tries to both solve the puzzle of the deadly tape and protect her precocious son, Aidan (David Dorfman).
As the film tightens its grip, The Ring ratchets up the tension and maintains a credible plot—well, as credible as horror films can be, anyway. The less said about the overall plot, the better; besides, if you read it all here, why even bother going to see it?
Director Verbinski, working from a script by Ehren Kruger, suffuses the film; set in the misty Northwest, with a gloomy, understated paranoia that holds the audience’s attention.
The cast is fantastic, with Watts taking what could’ve been laughable and giving the proceedings a deadly urgency. Brian Cox strikes the right notes as a grieving father; Dorfman appears to be channeling Haley Joel Osment at times and Henderson often looks like a poor man’s Viggo Mortensen, but they all shine in individual moments.
A worthwhile remake (and there are so few) that manages to translate an idea across cultures and not ruin the message, The Ring looks to be one of the fall’s breakout hits—although the carpet-bombing ad campaign that’s been ongoing since late August probably will help its box office as well.

“The Ring” hearkens back to the days of surreal creep-outs like “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Exorcist” in that chills are delivered but without a helping of extreme blood and guts. A perfect film to catch on a brisk fall afternoon and definite must-see for the fast approaching Halloween season, “The Ring” is a riveting psychological thriller that tightens the screws until the final frame.

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