The Ring



US 2002 : Gore Verbinski : 115mins

Though only a minor arthouse hit over here, Hideo Nakata’s Ring was such a massive success in its native Japan that it set off a whole new wave of high-concept far-eastern horrors – which were rapidly snapped up for Hollywood remakes. Purists braced themselves for the worst – but while inevitably less subtle than the original, The Ring turns out to be an effectively creepy little fright-fest with a strong central performance from Mulholland Dr.‘s Naomi Watts.

As single-mother journalist Rachel, she stumbles across a story involving a mysterious videotape: according to urban myth, if you watch the tape your telephone will ring and a voice will deliver the message “seven days.” One week later, you suffer a horrible death. When the skeptical Rachel tracks down the tape and watches it, the phone rings. sparking a desperate race against time to decipher the mysterious video images and avert her looming demise.

Scriptwriter Ehren (Scream 3) Kruger wisely retains the original’s brilliantly clever structure (the title has at least three different meanings), with only a few minor alterations – the heroine’s young kid (David Dorfman) becoming yet another precociously spooked-out Haley Joel Osment type. Making atmospheric use of raindrenched Seattle locations and deploying a clammy palate dominated by greyish blues and greens, Verbinski at times seems unsure whether he’s remaking Ring or Nakata’s follow-up, the brackish Dark Water. But he’s a technically proficient director and delivers an acceptable combination of chills, jolts and scares – and while does get a bit carried away on the visuals side from time to time, the end result may well have even the toughest horror addict hiding their eyes at especially fraught moments.

25th January, 2003
(seen 23rd, Warner Village Cheshire Oaks, Ellesmere Port)

by Neil Young