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View Date: October 18th, 2002

Rating: ($$ out of $$$$$)


Naomi Watts Rachel Keller
Martin Henderson  Noah
David Dorfman Aidan Keller
Brian Cox Richard Morgan
Jane Alexander Dr. Grasnik
Lindsay Frost Ruth
Amber Tamblyn Katie
Rachael Bella Becca
Daveigh Chase Samara Morgan
Shannon Cochran Anna Morgan

Directed by:
Gore Verbinski

Written by:
(novel) Kôji Suzuki
(1998 screenplay) Hiroshi Takahashi
(2002 screenplay) Ehren Kruger

Related Viewings:
Others, The (2001)
Sixth Sense, The (1999)
Ringu (1998)

Videodrome (1983)

Official Site:
The Ring-Movie

Cast information and links courtesy of logo.gif (2059 bytes)

Go To Reel Rambling Page



The Ring

There is a long path between idea and execution.  The Hollywood path is littered with the victims of failing one or both of these.  There have been ideas which have sounded good in principle, but lost in translation due to poor writing, performance or depiction.  The Ring is yet another example of this.  While the initial idea is intriguing and the setup is creepy and chilling, the writing and progression of the story is a letdown and in the end, we are left with many more questions than answers, and not in a good sense either.

As the teasing and haunting trailer states, there is a video tape that once you watch it, you will die within seven days.  Preaching to the natural propensity and obsession of America to watch and record events using videotape, the film tries to ignite our fears by giving us something simple and common and making it dangerous or scary.  Horror movies have been doing this for years, from babysitting (When A Stranger Calls) to dolls (Child’s Play), we are scared most by what is around us and what we do not understand.  Apparently though the wrong person has seen this tape.  After her niece dies from watching the tape, a journalist, Rachel, does some digging and investigating to find out what the secret is behind it and possibly save the lives of those she cares about who have seen tape; either intentionally or accidentally.  What she begins to uncover is a mysterious series of events on a remote island involving horse ranchers, fertile mothers and an abandoned well.  She enlists the help of Noah, a video tape editor who conveniently has a connection to Rachel and her son Aidan.  Together Rachel and Noah race against the calendar to solve the mystery and hopefully prevent their own demises.  This  is where the film loses all of its steam. 

Screenwriter Ehren Krueger puts in some uncomfortable dialogue which nearly offsets the disturbing imagery and difuses any fear-inducing momentum that the film builds up.  As far as the ending goes, it suffers the rampant cinematic disease of indecisive resolution and excessive explanation.  There are at least 2 solid points, prior to the actual ending, that the film could have wrapped and been a bit more effective.  Instead the film keeps trying, like the audience just doesn’t, or may not, get it.  It is a shame too, because the film is very well made and chilling to look at.  Verbinski has established an atmosphere similar to The Others; cold, dark and creepy and combined with Angelo Badalamenti’s score (teamed with Watts again after their wonderful collaboration in Mulholland Drive), it makes the film a hauntingly delicious vision.  But alas the story is as empty as the center of the namesake ring.  The film left me with numerous questions, which for the sake of the film I will not print here, but a film should not leave the audience in a state of confusion without giving some basis or hint at the answers.  Lynch and M Night Shyamalan’s Sixth Sense both generate a mysterious, supernatural aura but have a solid story as the basis.  For all of his cinematic tricks (including insert subliminal clips from the video into the movie) and establishment of atmosphere, Verbinski does not, and its holes are glaring and distracting.

Ultimately, The Ring is a film that paints itself into a dark corner and then tries to creep and scare its way out by offering too many elements and not enough genuine fear. The key to a good mystery/suspense/horror movie boils down to four basic points; establishment, plausibility,  execution and resolution.  The Ring hits about one and a half of these.  While the idea is setup well, and seems relatively possible in that darkly alternate universe that exists, the writers and directors seemed lost as to what to do with things.  This results in a meandering story full of holes and questions, and a resolution that will leave the audience scratching their heads in confusion rather than amazement.  The underlying message of the film seems to preach to all dysfunctional families out there.  It preaches that we should listen to our children, to pay attention to them and then bad things will not happen.  Who knew that Jerry Falwell was a consultant to horror movies? This film was a pseudo remake of a Japanese film and I have to wonder if that film makes more sense than this one does and makes things a bit clearer than this one does.  Confusion does not breed success, unless you’re David Lynch and have a basis or at least a common thread to link things too.  In The Ring, Verbinski shows us that he is no David Lynch and still needs to work on his storytelling skills.  

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