The Ring

The premise of The Ring is that there is a videotape, that, when viewed, shows some horrific imagery. After the tape is over, the viewer will receive a telephone call notify that person that he/she has seven days to live. Seven days later, the viewer will die. The Ring is a smart horror film based on Ringu, a Japanese film based on the novel by Koji Suzuki. There is very little blood or gore in the movie, it is all about a growing sense of dread that the filmmakers ably pass on to the viewers. Another recent film, feardotcom, had a similar premise, that after viewing a website, the person would die in two days. In fact, the plot structure is eerily similar in both cases. The difference is that there is story in The Ring, and the filmmakers focus on producing fear, not gore.

Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts, Mulholland Drive, Down) has a special interest in this tape; her niece and three of her friends died exactly seven days after watching it. Rachel is a reporter, and does not believe that something like this can happen, until of course she begins investigating. She finds the tape, watches it, and receives the call. She enlists the help of her friend Noah (Martin Henderson, Windtalkers, Kick) a video technician, and their skepticism begins to change as stranger things begin to happen. The urgency of the situations increases tenfold when Rachel discovers that her young son Aidan (David Dorfman, Bounce, Panic) saw the tape. Watts shot to stardom with Mulholland Drive (although she's been working for years), and the sophomore slump does not apply here. Rachel is a smart, independent woman who is exhausting every method she can to save her son. Watts is able to lend a sense of credibility to the role. Unlike most horror movies, events here follow a logical progression. Rachel and Noah discover clues, track them down, and find more clues.

The tape itself is a jumble of bizarre imagery. A burning tree, ladder, woman combing her hair and later jumping off a cliff, and horses all mesh together in creepy black and white. Director Gore Verbinski (The Mexican, Mouse Hunt) chooses to eschew the tape and focus on Watts' face, which he often has in close up so that everybody can see her reaction to the things around her. There are plenty of moments designed only to make the audience jump, and Verbinski and adapter Ehren Kruger (Impostor, Reindeer Games) effectively use them to scare anybody watching. Verbinski also favors the use of muted colors like blue and gray. The sky is always overcast, and everything else is usually dark. The titles announcing the day of the week and the number of days left is also a nice touch; it does nothing except increase the tension surrounding Rachel's situation. The element in The Ring that in common with most horror movies is the ending. The ending is somewhat of a let down, mainly because the set up was so much better than average. But it is a fun trip getting to the end.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 55 minutes, Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, disturbing images, language, and some drug references.

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