Naomi Watts stars in this American remake of the Japanese Ringu. A group of teens watch a video tape, the phone rings and the creepy voice on the other end announces, with deliberate cryptic bent, "seven days". Then, lo and behold, seven days later, they die. Even with a silly sounding plot, The Ring creates an eerily effective atmosphere and has its plot carried along by strong performances. One of the better, actually scary movies, to come along in a few years and, remarkably, is only rated PG-13. Good stuff.
Studio: DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures
US Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, disturbing images, language and some drug references
Film Length: 115 Minutes
Video: AVC MPEG-4 1080P High Definition 16X9
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Review Date: September 9, 2012
“You start to play it and it's like somebody's nightmare. And then this woman comes on, smiling at you, right? Seeing you... through the screen. Then when it's over, your phone rings, someone knows you watched the tape... and what they say is, "You will die in seven days".”
Rachel recently lost her niece. The circumstances surrounding the death are suspicious and as a journalist, Rachel is unable to simply move on. Her research finds a bizarre urban legend, the story of a videotape that, when watched, will leave those witnesses dead in seven days. The story is incredulous, yet the deeper Rachel delves into the origins of the story the more she uncovers dubious coincidences and inexplicable deaths. When she finds the tape and views it herself, she discovers that there is truth to the tale and now has just seven days to find out what or who will try and take her life.
Gore Verbinski has a brilliant directorial eye. The meandering dark of standard horror fare is replaced here with a keen sense of patience and steely cold intensity that runs down the running time like the near-constant rain in the film runs down high-rise windows. Director of the first three wildly successful Pirates of the Caribbean, Verbinksi’s even hand and precision are a boon. As a horror film (though this film fits the thriller genre a little better), The Ring places audiences ill-at-ease, delivers jumps, tension, terrifying images and a generous amount of goose bumps without falling victim to an overreliance on those traditional horror film norms. The story is treated with such gravity that the preposterousness of the plot idea is quickly forgotten and the mystery and thrills take hold.
Ehren Kruger’s screenplay deviates from both the original novel by Kôji Suzuki and the 1998 Ringu screenplay by Hiroshi Takahashi in some minor but meaningful ways, but the result still provides the film with the teeth of the unseen and an earnest foreboding. Hans Zimmer provides a moody, brooding score which serves to elevate the mystery and the morbid turns the movie takes.
Naomi Watts is perhaps one of the most compelling actresses working today. Though the roles she has taken on in recent years haven’t bore that out, she remains an actor of modest ambition but exceptional skill. Watts provides the Rachel character with a believably inquisitive core and frayed motherly concern succeeding as the tale’s ambitious protagonist. Martin Henderson co-stars as Noah, Rachel’s former love interest and father to their child, Aiden, played by David Dorfman. Henderson is well cast as the largely immature fella in their lives, but it is Dorfman as the mature-beyond-his-years lad (he calls his mother Rachel) whose ghostly stoicism and unusual command of emotion and situation stand in contrast to Watts’ oft agitated demeanor. The inimitable Brian Cox also stars.
The Ring bowed on Blu-ray earlier this year as a Best Buy exclusive and is now available at other retailers. Thankfully so as this a terrific looking disc. Framed at 1.85:1, matching its theatrical presentation, it comes with a pronounced color tone (a strong teal which leans more towards blue in the city scenes) is that helps to create the sense that it is a slightly off-kilter world the characters inhabit. It is a cold, unforgiving world.
The image shows off some fine detail and comes with nice texture. Interference by those who might seek to sharpen edges is nowhere to be found. This is a very well done high definition release.
The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is the perfect accompaniment to this solid release from Paramount. The near-omnipresent rainfall wraps the listener while Zimmer’s score paints the tension and emotional tweezing alongside. Moments of horror – particularly the gripping revelation towards the finale – deliver impressively in the bass and subwoofer. Dialogue is issue-free in the center channel, occasional directional effects and the aforementioned weather crisp in the surrounds and music, ambience and other sounds tight in the front channels.
2.5 / 5
Note: the back cover refers to a special feature, Cursed Video, which is absent from the disc.
Don’t Watch This (15:26) (HD): Deleted scenes and moments from the film (sewn together with flashes of the disturbing video tape) creating a mini-movie of a sort.
Rings (16:42) (HD): This nearly 17 minute extra feature serves as a bridge between this film and its less successful sequel. .
Cast and Filmmaker Interviews (7:58) (HD): Actors discuss their characters and the director and producers talk about the casting choices and reasons.
The Origin of Terror (4:00): A short bit that is mostly the cast and crew sharing urban legends they’d heard through the years (with some ‘experts’ chiming in).
Theatrical Trailer (2:10)
The Ring may not match the visceral intensity of the Japanese original from which it is derived, but the brilliance of the filmmaking, skill of the performances, and intrigue of the plot give depth to a film in a genre that far too often lacks just that. A fine mixed-genre film crafted with proficiency and performed with determination by an effective cast, The Ring works.
Overall (Not an average)