Gore Verbinski's Hollywood remake of Hideo Nakata's creepfest is more faithful than it is usually given credit for. Sure, the original offers better atmosphere but I think that a good portion of that may be due to the level of discomfort the average viewer feels while watching any foreign film. This is simply not possible to achieve in a movie cast with familiar faces speaking in (mostly) unaccented English.
But for those who are unable or unwilling to watch
Ringu, the original,
The Ring is a workable substitute. The radiant Naomi Watts stars in her first film after her breakthrough role in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. If that hadn't already made her a star, the box office success of this film would have. It showcases her best abilities in a more accessible form.
The Ring opens with
Joan of Arcadia's Amber Tamblyn at a sleepover with a friend. As the friend tells her the rumor of a video that kills the viewer seven days after watching it, recognition dawns on Tamblyn's face: she's seen it, she says, seven nights ago, with her boyfriend. This sequence sets the tone for the rest of the film, as well as giving Watts something to investigate (Tamblyn plays her niece).
But once it becomes personal (when Watts and other members of her family see the film themselves), the strangeness that carries throughout
The Ring really takes over. It's a mystery to be solved wrapped in the guise of a horror film with a taste of the surreal (shades of
Un Chien Andalou); a perfect choice for a cold, rainy night's viewing.
(Also included on the
DVD is a featurette incorporating deleted scenes into their corresponding theatrical sequences. This reimagining illuminates the story surrounding the video a bit more and retains the creepy mood set by the feature. The ending is particularly chilling, however
The Ring itself will become less timely as DVDs continue to take over the marketplace originally held by VHS. There will come a day -- too soon, unfortunately -- when people will be watching it thinking, "Oh, look, a video; how quaint" and the film will have lost all its power to terrorize.)
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