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Original Vs. Remake: The Ring

03.25.2015by: Mike Catalano
The responses were as I expected in regard to the outcome of our last Original Vs. Remake that had both versions of RoboCop battling it out. You pretty much can't top the original, but I was surprised (as was many of our readers) as to how well-made and entertaining the remake was. Props to the director José Padilha for bringing us something topical, cool, and different, but he still must bow down to the Paul Verhoeven classic.

For today's O vs. R, we are using all the recent reports on the latest Ring reboot that is quickly coming together as our springboard. It's been some time since we last heard of that infamous video tape that is a real bitch to watch. So, why don't we take a look back at the part 1's from both series and see who can outlast "7 days"? Steer clear of any wells and we'll get down to Ringu Vs. The Ring!

Story
Reiko, a TV reporter and single mom becomes involved with a cursed videotape that apparently, leads to the death of anyone who ever views it. While investigating, she ends up watching the tape and thus, inheriting the curse. From there it is a race against time to discover the mystery behind the tape and stop it from killing herself or anyone else!
Actually, the story is exactly the same as the Japanese original, so there is really no point in re-hashing. Yes, it is still a well-worded adaptation, but can't get the win for such an exact copy.
Special Effects
The effects are kind of low budget here. Nothing too outlandish at all. The victims are merely turned white and have their mouths open. Nothing too extensive happening in this department. It kind of takes away from the super creepy supernatural vibe that it's going for.
The sheer look of both Samara as well as her water-logged victims is top notch in terms of terror. For a film dealing with a PG-13 rating, this is high praise indeed. The big set piece at the end with that black-haired she demon crawling forth from the television set is also done incredibly well and really freaks you out!
Acting
Everyone does a fine job with their roles here. Maybe it's because of the language barrier, but nothing really stood out to me in terms of exceptional acting. Star, Nanako Matsushima, is definitely the stand out. Like I said, there are competent enough performances on hand, but no one truly knocks it out of the park.
I really thought the performances in the remake sold the proceedings a bit more than the original. Naomi Watts is excellent as the lead and effortlessly carries the film. Brian Cox, Martin Henderson, and Amber Tamblyn add great support, but the true difference maker is young David Dorfman who is nicely creepy as Watts' son.
Intensity
I guess the original has its share of jolts, but really, any shocks come off as pretty tame. Maybe it's the lack of any real special effects or scary make-up, or again, perhaps it's me getting lost in the translation, but this was not as scary as one might expect it to be. Even what the video tape shows lacks any real punch or suspense.
Now, I remember seeing the remake in the theater and the screams that went blaring out when the face of Samara's first victim was revealed. That was some f*cked up shite! Also, what's on that video tape is pretty damn disturbing. Then, at the end as Samara was crawling forth from the TV, the audience absolutely lost their shit! Again, for a PG-13 movie that is some nice intensity.
Hot Chicks
Once again, star Nanako Matsushima is the only real standout here. There are some school girls on hand, but they all come off as way too young to be considered desirable. The original really wasn't all about the hot chicks.
Naomi Watts is flat-out gorgeous. Love her. She is just so damn watchable, it's a good thing she's onscreen for the majority of the movie. Also, Amber Tamblyn in her plaid skirt outfit definitely fits the mold in terms of what makes a sexy schoolgirl.
Directing
I will definitely give Hideo Nakata credit for crafting a certain atmospheric dread that is sustained throughout his film. That is not an easy task, especially without a great deal of special effects or even gore. He also does a nice job of crafting the mystery around the video tape and why people who have viewed it are dying. This is what keeps the viewer gripped throughout the length of the film.
Gore Verbinski didn't take much of a creative license while remaking Ringu. In fact, it almost feels like a shot-for-shot remake with just a tiny bit of differing details sprinkled in. Of those details, the strong emphasis on "TV is bad for you" was a nice touch. He also does a good job crafting a very stark, grey appearance throughout the film that really enhances a feeling of hopeless distress.
The Ring (2002)
And so closes the lid to the well on this battle! I kind of had an inkling that the Ring's remake would win out. It's just one of those rare horror PG-13 movies that actually works, even though it sticks very closely to the original's entire plot line. I'm curious to see if I'm merely lost in translation or if you agree. Kindly drop them bullets below! And if you have any flicks you'd like to see in this column, give me a shout at mikecatalano@joblo.com.

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5:30PM on 03/26/2015

Agreed!

While the original film is great in it's own right, I prefer the remake due to its fleshed out story, the fantastic acting, and the look of Samara and her victims. When I first saw the opening victim's face, I nearly had a freak out! Plus Naomi Watts blew me away in this film and has been one of my favourite actresses ever since (This is the first time I ever heard of her was in this movie!).
While the original film is great in it's own right, I prefer the remake due to its fleshed out story, the fantastic acting, and the look of Samara and her victims. When I first saw the opening victim's face, I nearly had a freak out! Plus Naomi Watts blew me away in this film and has been one of my favourite actresses ever since (This is the first time I ever heard of her was in this movie!).
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+0
9:58PM on 03/25/2015

Disagree... for the most part

The American version of The Ring suffers from a seriously bloated plot as compared to the original. It is a classic case of "less is more". The inclusion of the whole Samara back story only serves to demystify her as a character. The same way Rob Zombie did to Michael Myers in his version of Halloween. I don't want to know where she came from. She's here...and I'm scared... that's all that matters. Show, don't tell. Viewers want experiences, not information. The pace of the original is perfect.
The American version of The Ring suffers from a seriously bloated plot as compared to the original. It is a classic case of "less is more". The inclusion of the whole Samara back story only serves to demystify her as a character. The same way Rob Zombie did to Michael Myers in his version of Halloween. I don't want to know where she came from. She's here...and I'm scared... that's all that matters. Show, don't tell. Viewers want experiences, not information. The pace of the original is perfect. Yes the actors are not of the caliber of the American version. Yes the American version cost a bajillion dollars more. But your assertion that the original's director wins out because he kept the creepy atmosphere "despite the low budget" just serves to show how askew your bearings are when it comes to horror. CGI and special fx NEVER equates to a creepier atmosphere or more scares. In fact it's the exact opposite. The "climbing out of the television" scene is 10x creepier in the original for this very reason--no CGI. I suppose you prefer Jan DeBont's debacle The Haunting over the classic original too? Let's be fair now: These are both excellent films. The remake is bloated (as most Hollywood remakes are) and tries to do too much. The actors give uniformly excellent performances and the makeup in the American version (practical effects!) are far superior. I concede all that. But the original wins the day slightly for me due to it's originality (it is "the original"), its brisk and efficient pace, and it's choice of creepier, non-CGI effects. It's flat-out the scarier film. Period. That's my take.
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+0
6:40PM on 03/25/2015

Couldn't agree more

I have to say, with hesitation, that I have never seen the original, Ringu. It's been on my watch list for sometime, but have not gotten around to it.

The Ring is a movie I can genuinely call a horror movie. It took me about 3 sittings to finish it. After seeing the first victim in the closet, I was terrified as to what would come next. This is one of my favorite films, and it simply hasn't aged, IMO. I've always heard that Ringu was scarier, but from the above analysis, it's hard to
I have to say, with hesitation, that I have never seen the original, Ringu. It's been on my watch list for sometime, but have not gotten around to it.

The Ring is a movie I can genuinely call a horror movie. It took me about 3 sittings to finish it. After seeing the first victim in the closet, I was terrified as to what would come next. This is one of my favorite films, and it simply hasn't aged, IMO. I've always heard that Ringu was scarier, but from the above analysis, it's hard to imagine. I'll still have to see for myself, but The Ring is one hell-of-a-movie.
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