Posted: 10/21/02

The Ring (2002)
by Hank Yuloff

American version of Japanese original is pretty good horror flick with a few genuine shocks.

Posted: 10/22/02

The Ring (2002)
by John Flores

As good as the book? What makes it fun to watch if it's the same as the book?


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I went into this one with the dread and hope. The "Warnings" (excuse me, the Trailers) had been as creepy as the ones I saw for Blair Witch and we all know how monumentally bad that piece of crap was (see my list on FilmMonthly.com's top and bottom lists for the last several years).

But you know, I came out very pleased with The Ring. It wasn't the most scary movie ever, but I got goose bumps at least 3 times and was satisfied enough with the ending to give a positive recommendation for this movie... especially to see it in a theater.

Naomi Watts (from that POS* Mulholland Drive) plays Rachel Keller, an investigative reporter who begins to delve into the mysterious death of her niece. As she begins the investigation, she finds that her niece died at the exact same time as three of the niece's friends. She is lead to a remote motel in the woods (aren't they always in the woods?) where she discovers that the four schoolmates had watched a video that carries with it the evil power of a spirit that kills exactly seven days after someone watches the video. It seems kind of silly but it all does get explained how an evil spirit can get their wicked mojo onto a VHS tape (I mean, David Lynch has done it a bunch of times).

They show us the video (note to editor - that means my review for Lord of the Rings 2 might be late), which appears to be someone's nightmare. Within it are all the clues that Keller will need to solve the mystery, but she only has 7 days to do it. Keller is joined in her investigation by her ex-husband Noah (Martin Henderson from Windtalkers) who sees the video approximately one day after Keller. My thought at the time - good way to get rid of the ex! It takes him a couple of days to come around to believing Keller that they are both in a race for their lives, and to help spur them on, their young son Aidan (David Dorman from Bounce) ends up seeing it when he can't sleep at night. Guess he was tired of Aladdin.

Like I said at the top, The Ring isn't supremely scary but it is definitely worth a look. Unlike Blair Witch, where we couldn't wait for the three idiots to get offed, in The Ring we are made to instantly like the first victim and Rachel, Noah, and Aidan. I didn't feel there were any holes in the plot and all of the loose ends are tied up in the end. Also, director Gore Verbinski (The Mexican) gives us some nice twists as we move along and that is what is important to any interesting mystery-horror movie. I will tell you that you might feel just uncomfortable enough in the end to want to send a copy of that tape to your high school gym teacher... You know, the one who kept you from getting straight A's just because you couldn't climb that stupid rope fast enough? Bastard.

*POS - piece of shit. - Editor

Hank Yuloff is one of our writers who takes much to heart. Hope he didn't take this one too seriously - he has several movies he is supposed to review soon.

Got a problem? Email us at filmmonthly@hotmail.com

In the tradition of films that can scare the living hell out of you, The Ring steps onto the mat and delivers a punishing blow. With the days of Scream and other slasher's like it behind us, and the approaching darkness of Halloween inching even closer, it seems only appropriate that Dreamworks Pictures release it's remake of the 1998 Japanese horror flick.

The Ring stars Naomi Watts as Rachel Keller, hot off her steamy, yet impressive performance in Mulholland Drive. Rachel is portrayed as a highly motivated reporter for a Seattle newspaper, raising a son by herself. When her niece dies suddenly, Rachel begins to try and piece together the puzzle as to how a healthy 16 year-old girl can just die suddenly. In her investigation Rachel stumbles upon a tape, that after being watched said person will have seven days to live. The rest of the movie follows Rachel and her race against time to find answers that may save her life and her son, played by David Dorfman, both previously having watched the tape.

The movie has its flaws that, I think, come with marketing a horror film in mainstream America. Rachel's son [Dorfman] is a wide-eyed, large headed, creepy little kid. His ability to feel things that his mom can't only cements the comparison to a certain Sixth Sense kid that could "see dead people." Dorfman's character did add a certain chill factor to the movie, large black eyes staring wide-eyed at his mother in fear as she explains a key point to the film. Writer Ehren Kruger does a good job of keeping the dialogue simple, nothing too complex. He let the story speak for itself and the visual effects work its magic. Director Gore Verbinski does wonders with the placement of objects in each scene, or the mise en scene, as it is called in the biz. Flowing clouds, dark and twisted trees, and an explicit disembowelment scene make for a perfect blend of shock factor and fright.

The act of scaring the audience was handled quite seamlessly, I thought. From the opening scene in which two teenage girls alone in a sprawling house are scared to death and insanity, to the jump-at-you quick cuts that seem to fill the movie in an unpredictable order, the movie does more than just a good job proving itself worthy of the comparisons to such classics as Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist. A powerful screen presence by Watts, a well developed suspense story, and enormously creepy film noir visuals all make for a film worth seeing. In the barn that is mainstream big budget cinema, The Ring is the needle.

John Flores is a filmmaker, music reviewer, and freelance writer, based in the great city of Chicago.

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