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The Ring Review

By Shawn McKenzie 10/18/2002

My initial reaction to The Ring was that it was going to suck badly. The plot reminded me of an earlier movie I had reviewed called FearDotCom (see my review), which I consider the second worst movie of 2002 so far (behind Possession.) To make matters worse, The Ring was rated PG-13, and let’s face it, most horror movies that are not rated R are pretty lame. I know there are exceptions, like The Sixth Sense and The Others, but in general it is the rule. Well, we can add one more movie to the list of actually scary PG-13 movies.

The Ring is a remake of a 1998 Japanese movie called Ringu. It tells the tale of Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts), a reporter for the Seattle P.I. She is raising her young son, Aidan (David Dorfman), by herself. One day she gets word that her 16-year-old niece, Katie (Amber Tamblyn), has mysteriously died. Rachel finds out that Katie had previously watched a strange videotape that somehow kills whoever watches it exactly seven days later. Katie, her boyfriend, and two others are dead after doing just that, and they all died at exactly the same time. Also, Katie’s friend, Becca (Rachael Bella), who was with Katie when she died, is in the mental hospital now. Rachel has a hard time believing that all of this is possible, but starts investigating the events and hears that others know of this urban legend and the creepy phone call one receives after watching the tape. She tracks down the tape at the cabin where the kids had watched it and decides to watch it herself (apparently she wisely missed seeing FearDotCom herself.) What she sees is a tripped out grainy collection of disturbing images that, as one character points out, looks "very film school." She gets the phone call too, but she is still in doubt. She then shows the tape to her friend, Noah (Martin Henderson), who is a film geek and also happens to be the father of her son.  Noah also doesn’t believe that the tape can kill, but goes along with her wacky theories.  Not long after she shows Noah the tape, weird things begin to happen (which I will let you see for yourself.)  Rachael and Noah then begin to further investigate the tape and the contents of it.  That leads them to Moesko Island and the former horse farm of Richard Morgan (Brian Cox) where they come to believe the ghost of a young girl, Samara (Daveigh Chase), is somehow involved in the deaths and other odd things going on.  Time becomes a huge factor, not only to Rachel and Noah, but to their freaky weird psychic son Aidan, because he accidentally stumbles upon the tape himself during one sleepless night.  They need to solve the mystery quickly, or they will all die.

I think it’s the quick editing and visuals that set this movie apart from FearDotCom.  Director Gore Verbinski has shown a style that wasn't evident in his past movies The Mexican or Mouse Hunt.  The killer tape itself is weird enough, and it is really creepy to discover the reasons for the appearances of the things in the video as they are discovered by the characters.  The weird things that happen after they watch the video are all there with the intention to give you the chills and have a purpose for being there to further the plot.  The weird things that happen after they visit the web site in FearDotCom seem to be there just to be weird and don’t necessarily further the plot.

Another huge difference in the two movies is the acting.  Where Stephen Dorff is the only decent actor in FearDotCom, everyone in The Ring is good.  Watts is obviously beautiful, but she is able to give a look to her face that makes you believe she is worn out by raising a child alone and now has to deal with this killer tape.  Cox is always creepy to me in no matter what he is in, so he is perfectly cast here.

The only problem I had with the movie was with Dorfman.  It wasn’t his performance I had a problem with, just his character.  Ever since 1980’s The Shining, there have been many movies that seem to employ the character of the freaky weird psychic kid.  It is getting a little old.  As far as his performance as the freaky weird psychic kid, Dorfman was actually one of the freakiest.  He has this bug-eye look that I don’t know if it is natural or acting, but it adds to the mood of the movie.

The Ring is the movie you have to see this month.  I really hope it becomes a hit and sticks around, because this would be a perfect movie to watch on Halloween night.  As my colleague Reggie McDaniel says, “The Ring is what FearDotCom wants to be when it grows up!”


Ratings System:


Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

Wait until it comes out on video...

Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...

Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!

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