The Ring (2002)
Ebert: Rolling Stone: TV Guide:1/2
Warning, minor plot points revealed!
The tagline for this movie is "Before you die, you see the ring." I couldn't agree more. You really should see this movie before you die. There's a few spooky offerings at the theatre for Halloween and this is the first one out of the gate. It is a film, not favored by the critics, that ultimately delivers enough chills to make it worth your while. We saw it on Friday and Holly was up all night Sunday still scared to death!
Reporter Rachel Keller is determined to find out what literally scared her teenage niece to death. The investigation quickly leads her to a strange (David Lynch inspired) videotape. The urban legend is that when you watch this tape, you see The Ring and then have seven days left to live. Rachel watches the tape and then tracks down the people and places featured in a desperate attempt to unravel a mystery, save the life of her son and her own as well.
My description makes it sound like a stupid episode of The Outer Limits but I've left out all the good stuff. This is the kind of movie that relies heavily on it's surprises and shocks so I don't want to blow it for anyone who may decide to watch it.
The film is an amalgamate of The Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project, Eraserhead, and The Violent Femme's "Country Death Song." I especially liked the visual style employed. It's a very dark technique that combines the creepy mood of David Lynch with the jittery splice-happy camera work of David Fincher. The best part of the movie is that you actually get to watch the entire weird scary video tape. It sets a tone for the rest of the film that helps to unsettle and upset you subliminally before the story really gets rolling. There are images from the movie that are still fresh in my mind, four days later.
The actors all work to various degrees. Brian Cox, the original Hannibal Lecter, is perfectly creepy as the old man with a secret to keep. Naomi Watts does fine as Rachel Keller and infuses the role with a passion that makes you actually concerned for her well being. David Dorfman, as Rachel's son Aidan, is the new child actor being groomed to take over the Haley Joel Osment roles for the next few years. He does a good job for a child but he seems to just copy the intensity that Osment seems to radiate effortlessly.
The special effects are sparse but used effectively. The gore is kept to a minimum. As with most good thrillers, the images in the film merely imply horror. Depending on your disposition, The Ring will either be scary or just weird. There is one effect sequence near the end if the film that is just plain terrifying. I loved it!
I don't know how many of the Halloween movies I'll see this year but The Ring is definitely one worth viewing. If you don't catch it at the theatre it's no big deal. I have a feeling this movie will probably be even better on DVD. And if you still rent video, be sure to remember that after you watch it....7 days....then You Die!