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Journalist Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) gets drawn into the urban myth of a video with deadly powers: after watching it the viewer receives a phone call [but that's not the ring reference in the title] with the forecast of the viewer's death within seven days. She isn't easily taken in, but her skepticism vanishes after she views the tape herself. She enlists the help of her ex, Noah (Martin Henderson), and when her young son (David Dorfman) views the tape, she knows she must discover the secret of the tape or not only lose her own life but her son's as well. Her enquiries lead her to believe that the phenomenon is somehow linked to a horse farm on a mysterious island, where she discovers a well ....

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Constantly inventive in its search for the bizarre, jolting and sometimes hideous as a way of providing the scares and shocks a horror movie audiences are craving for, The Ring is a mixed bag of excellent cinematic crafts and missed opportunities. The music and cinematography are superb, but the script and characterisations remain as inaccessible as the ghost story that drives the film.

If you are a fan of the Japanese original, you may want to see this out of curiosity; if you're a young man looking for a scary date movie, make sure you are both going to see it for the same reason. Being neither, I find the movie a little disappointing and insufficiently visceral to be truly scary. It plays like an above average teen horror film, albeit with a more complex set of images. I feel as if the book's complexities are crammed helter skelter into the film but lose their context and are little more than dramatic but meaningless elements.

While meaning alone is not the only possible objective for filmmaking, the audience cannot be left adrift on too many rafts in the open ocean of the filmmakers' imagination without getting lost at sea. It also opens the film to ridicule - and many in the preview laughed when they should have been gasping. Sometimes these are moments culled from clever red herrings - those strange, inexplicable, manifestations of possible evil spirits - and sometimes from straight out melodrama.

Which leads me to speculate that the original novel and films are both culture-specific, compelling to the Japanese psyche in a way this adapted, Westernised take on the material is not. I do enjoy the surreal and inexplicable images that are conjured up, and I don't mind the fact that little of the story makes much sense, although when reduced to its simplest form, it seems to.

For those who can't get enough of the Ring thing, the DVD has two special bonus features: one is the 15 minute Don't Watch This, which of course you will watch immediately. It's full of the eerie, creepy, image-driven shock tactics that lovers of this genre will enjoy. It's a bit like a short version of the film.

The second is Rings, a short 'bridging' film that tracks the journey of the video from The Ring to The Ring Two. Highlight here is a giant black centipede that is coughed up ...

The eight minute Making of is standard fare, with too many overlays for the DVD, but good for a tv slot. Everybody's brilliant, clever and talented, of course.

Published April 14, 2005

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CAST: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox, Jane Alexander, Lindsay Frost, Amber Tamblyn

DIRECTOR: Gore Verbinski

SCRIPT: Ehren Kruger (based on Kôji Suzuki's novel and Hiroshi Takahashi's screenplay, Ringu)


EDITOR: Craig Wood

MUSIC: Hans Zimmer


RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen; DD 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Don't watch this; The Making of The Ring; Rings;


DVD RELEASE: April 6, 2005

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