Ring, The (2003) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/02/2003

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 115 mins

Well-acted, satisfactory remake that replicates the creepy atmosphere of the original and, for some reason, throws in a whole bunch of extra stuff involving horses…

Hideo Nakata’s 1998 cult horror flick Ringu (The Ring) was a surprise hit that quickly spawned both its own prequel and sequel, so an American remake was pretty much inevitable. Perhaps the more surprising news was that Gore ‘Mouse Hunt’ Verbinski was set to direct it.

However, the good news is that, as Hollywood remakes go, this isn’t bad – Verbinski reproduces the creepy atmosphere of the original film and there’s a solid central performance from rising star Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive).

Video Nasty

The story is pretty much the same, though it suffers a little in translation. The effective opening sequence features two teenage girls discussing an urban myth about a video that kills you seven days after you watch it. (The watcher receives a spooky phone-call informing them of their impending fate). Sure enough, one of them ends up dead, an expression of pure horror on her face…

After that, the story switches to one of the girl’s relatives, investigative reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts). Spurred on by a few words from her Creepy, Introverted Son (David Dorfman), Rachel begins to look into the girl’s death and soon hears the stories of the video. She teams up with her ex-husband (Henderson) to investigate further but then makes the rather foolish error of watching the tape herself…

Watts is extremely good in the lead here, easily doing enough to suggest that she’ll move onto Bigger And Better Things. The supporting cast are good too, though exactly what purpose Brian Cox serves in the film is anybody’s guess. Extra gravitas to go with the added horse? Who knows?

Excellent Cinematography

Where the film scores most highly is on the photography – it uses dark colours and rainswept exteriors to create an effectively creepy atmosphere. The video itself is also pretty creepy, with one or two images that will definitely stick in your mind, although it’s hard not to think “Student art school project” occasionally. This is also part of where the added horses come in, although this has a great pay-off with the film’s best sequence, a terrifically filmed bit in which a horse breaks free on a ferry.

The problem with the film is that it’s creepy rather than actually scary – there are no moments of absolute terror, despite several nasty images and the presence of that old horror standby, The Very Creepy Girl. Still, it’s effectively handled and never descends to the level of tongue-in-cheek.

In short, this is an enjoyable horror flick, regardless of whether or not you’ve seen the original and, frankly, it’s worth seeing for the bit with the horse. It will also be interesting to see how this fares against Final Destination 2, which treads the more familiar route of shocks’n’gore. Worth seeing, though its creepiness will obviously be enhanced once it’s available on video…

Film Trailer

Ring, The (2003) (15)
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Content updated: 24/04/2019 03:08

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