The Ring (2002)
Director: Gore Verbinski
When her niece dies under mysterious circumstances, scrumptious blonde journalist Rachel (Watts) sets out to find what went down and eventually links her demise to a video tape. She also discovers that after you watch the damn thing, you get a spooky phone call and 7 days later...you be dead as a door nail. Of course, good old Rach inserts the tape into the VCR and confirms the hearsay for herself the hard way.
Much like all of my relationships; my courtship with the RING remake has been a horrid mess from the get-go. At first, I was ragingly and totally against it. Then, after seeing some footage, I started thinking that maybe the remake would bring something fresh to the tale. And when the advance positive buzz on the flick kicked in; I started looking forward to it. So how did I feel coming out of the theatre other than repulsed by the smelly beeyatch that was sitting next to me (it’s called a bath ugly...look into it)? Read on compadres…
It’s as simple as cherry pie on a Sunday morning: the fact that I already watched and loved the original RING not too long ago definitely took away from some of the "fun times" that I could have had while watching this sucker. There’s no way I can go on with this review without comparing it to the original RING at least 7 times so please bare with my pointy bootie. Although not totally identical to the Japanese thriller on which it’s based, most of the plot turns here were exactly the same; right down to the kick my ass to hellish oblivion finale; needless to say, I didn’t get many surprises out of this one.
But where the original RING succeeded and this remake faltered the most was in the way in which its atmosphere affected me. Don’t get me wrong, this big bad remake had dread-filled style up the ying-yang, but it never fully got under my skin like the morbid mood of the original. In consequence, I was never fully engaged in the investigation angle; which is basically the bulk of the picture, since it lacked the necessary unease throughout. Sure, I was never bored, but I was walking through it in an almost passive manner; never once feeling on the edge of doom or 100% necrophilia charmed with what was taking place.
Having said that I can’t deny still being spellbound by the polished and striking images Verbinski slapped my way on a different level. Be it that eerie tree with the red leaves, the breathtaking scenery, the Goth-like trippy tape, the effective subliminal frames, the creepy lighting; just think horror inclined paintings coming to fearful life. Many o' times, I found myself saying in a low tone; “fucking nice”, “wow, groovy shot” or my token “good shite”. Verbinski also brought a couple of neat-o variations to the storyline that didn’t really bring too much more to the original's narrative but that I still appreciated. For example: giving us more meaning behind the “seven days motif”, slapping in an odd fly incident, using subtle touches of CGI in scary ways (brrr) while also handling the bits that worked so well in the original with panache. And yes, the ending still whooped my stupid ass all over the theatre even though I knew it was going to happen. I even jumped out of my seat a few times! That is a feat in itself.
On a character level, I quickly grew fond of stunning Watts in the role of Rachel and got lost in her big blue eyes more than once. Since the lead was likeable and pleasant to the crotch; I was into her the whole way. Daveigh Chase does ok in the role of Samara, but she wasn’t near as blood freezing frightening as Rie Inou aka Sadako the specter from the original. As for the kid and the boy-toy, well...the brat (Dorfmann) didn’t annoy me as much as I thought he would; although I found it odd that he kept calling his mom “Rachel”. Where’s the respect? Kids today, I tell ya. CALL HER “MOM” FUCKO! And as for the token hunk (Henderson), he’s one of the major differences between the remake and the original. Where Ryuji (Sanada) in the original was more mature and too sharp on his toes for my liking; here, the ex-boyfriend is of the “Playboy” variety and hasn’t got a clue. Unfortunately, his past and present relationship with Rachel is only glanced over here so I never got enough info about the lad to really bring myself to give two shits about him. Nice hair though; I commend him on that.
Overall, "The Ring" is an absorbing, stylized, at times scary, horror treat and if I hadn’t seen it before, I would also say that it was unique. Alas for me, this is déjà vu. Apart from a few new elements and some narrative changes made to appeal to American audiences, this is the same movie I saw 6 months ago. Should’ve just released the original on the big screen; then again, we all know how folks hate those damn subtitles or that quirky dubbing. The film’s tag line should be: "See The Ring and then go rent RING to see it again...but better!"
Much like the original, this sucker isn’t driven by gore. We get facially distorted corpses, ripped skin off a skull and some semi-disturbing images.
Naomi Watts (Rachel) confirms her acting talent and yes, looks like a nice Nicole Kidman. Martin Henderson (Noah) has great hair and a kool coat. Not much of a layered part. He’s ok. David Dorfmann (Aidan) does fine as the “kid” and has big scary eyes. What is that kid on? Brian Cox (Richard) has an intense cameo here; the man's still got the touch.
T & A
Miss Watts goes down to her black bra and panties...that’s it. NOTE TO SELF: Watch "Mulholland Drive" again to get the REAL Watts goods.
Verbinski has an eye for glossy atmosphere and he goes ape-shite here. I loved his play with colors; his knack at capturing panoramic scenery perfectly (all about the lighthouse) and his subliminal images sure hit the spot. I also dug his mind-toying plays with sounds.
The score here is adequately eerie, but it’s really the sounds that marked me. For example, that odd noise that “rung” while the tape was playing worked so well.
This film’s biggest fallback is that it’s a remake. But don’t misunderstand me fellow drones, "The Ring" is a good film and if you haven’t seen the original you’ll get some solid horror kicks in the nards out of it. But being in my shoes, I couldn’t help but find this puppy somewhat unnecessary. This is not like a Cronenberg’s “The Fly” type of remake where the basic premise is taken into a new and vast direction; it’s more of a “Psycho” type of deal where it’s mostly the same freaking thing. Thankfully, The Ring doesn’t embarrass RING and holds its own as a quality dub of the original. I hope it prompts audiences to seek out the hard-to-find Japanese gem so they can view the film that prompted this one to be born in the first place. Now, Samara can you call me and take me out already! I PLAYED THE TAPE AND YOU’RE LATE!
Jennifer Connelly, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale were all offered the part of Rachel and turned it down. Naomi Watts was next in line.