Friday, May 22, 2015

Film Review: The Ring (2002)

The Ring (Review)
United States/2002
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"You may not be afraid of renting a haunted video tape anymore, but at least the horror remains timeless."

Journalist Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) begins to investigate an ominous tape after her niece's mysterious death...

The Ring follows Rachel as she investigates this tape. The tape in question features bizarre and disturbing images. Those who watch the tape die 7 days later. Of course, Rachel watches the tape and drags her ex-boyfriend into the mix. To her utter surprise, she begins to experience bizarre visions and she begins to believe in the tape's power. So, Rachel rushes to find a way to save herself and her family — a way to break the curse. The film leads to an iconic climax and a good ending.

The Ring is a remake of Japanese horror film Ringu. (Also, there's a Korean remake titled The Ring Virus.) This is a great horror film. This is a slow-burn psychological/technology horror flick. There are a few jolting jump-scares here and there, but the film is mostly reliant on its slow-burn tension, ominous atmosphere, and eerie visuals — the tape, in particular, is creepy. If you're expecting a ghost story like The Grudge, adjust those expectations. This film uses some eerie ghost-like visuals, but they are sparse. (wait until the iconic climax!)

The concept of the haunted VHS tape may be outdated, but the actual horror has passed the test of time. (Think about, though, some people don't even know what a VHS is. Might as well be a haunted laserdisc! I mean, wow, we're getting old!) The film also works well as a mystery, despite some blatant convenience. There are a few issues with the film, though. The slow-burn pace I praised earlier? Yeah, it can occasionally be too slow. There are some scenes that overstay their welcome. This, in turn, causes the film to feel bloated. I mean, it does come in at nearly 110 minutes without credits, which is nearly unheard of for the contemporary horror genre.

The acting is strong, though. Naomi Watts is a great leading lady. She has plenty of charisma and screen presence. Martin Henderson is also good. Brian Cox delivers a very strong supporting role, too. The film looks great, the visual presentation also stands the test of time. The music is also fantastic. The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer is eerie and ominous — perfect for the genre. Director Gore Verbinski crafts a tense and eerie horror film. It gets under the skin thanks to the meticulous restraint —  a horror film doesn't have to jump at you to be scary. Although the slow-burn pace is usually beneficial, the film does occasionally suffer from some bad pacing and some bloating.

Overall, The Ring is a great film. The film delivers an engaging mystery, disturbing visuals, chilling tension, and ominous atmosphere. It can be a little too slow and uneventful at times, though. I know there are many who oppose remakes (I strongly dislike the Oldboy and A Nightmare on Elm Street remakes), but this is a well thought-out and finely-executed film. Even if you absolutely hate remakes, I urge you to give this film a chance. You may not be afraid of renting a haunted video tape anymore, but at least the horror remains timeless.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some disturbing visuals.

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