Page 1 of 3
First you see the ring, then you die... and then you do it all over again in high-def....!
Paramount / 115 Minutes / 2002 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: March 20, 2012 [Best Buy Exclusive]
I was almost too scared to review this Blu-ray. Why? Not because The Ring is just another example of Hollywood's obsession with turning every foreign cult movie into an American-ized blockbuster (it is). Nor because some people actually thought this was the scariest motion picture they'd ever seen (seriously). And not even because that creepy little kid in the movie is even more annoying than Haley Joel Osment. No, I was scared because I figured that if the damn videotape can kill you, what the hell is gonna happen to me if I watch the Blu-ray? And is impending death better or worse in full high-definition?
The story of The Ring is absolutely absurd, if compelling in that goofy B-movie sorta way. Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive) stars as Rachel Keller, a rather lousy mother and workaholic who is investigating the mysterious death of her cousin. Seems kids are popping in a videotape, getting a phone call ("Ringggg!") that tells them they're gonna die in a week, and then - poof! Of course, being a stupid heroine in a horror movie, Rachel tracks down the tape and watches it. Then she gets the phone call ("Ringggg!") and figures out she's next on the demonic VCR's hit list. With time running out, she only has seven days to unravel the mystery and save her son from certain doom.
Yes, this is totally ludicrous, but then the best horror movies have always been totally ludicrous (such silliness didn't stop The Exorcist from making a zillion dollars). So as a devout fan of B-movie junk, I was completely sucked in by the first act of The Ring. While Rachel is quite the unsympathetic lead (Watts plays her like a bored PTA mom who looks like she just stepped out of a David Lynch movie), director Gore Verbinski is smart enough to know the real star of his movie is that videotape. The quick flashes of its mysterious contents are suitably creepy, and only Watt's do-nothing boyfriend and that bug-eyed kid (David Dorfman) irritate. Also in the film's favor are the overall production values which are uniformly excellent, and I can't say I didn't want to stick around to see where it would all lead to in the Big Climax.
But is The Ring really the scariest motion picture since The Exorcist, as some have claimed? I must admit that by the middle of the movie I realized that there are so many mile-wide plot holes that it doesn't make any sense. I won't ruin the last third for you, but I just have to ask: If you were a mom and only had seven days to live, would you really dump your kid off all week with the babysitter? And has anyone else noticed that The Ring is essentially just a remake of that great old George C. Scott flick The Changeling, right down to the revelation of the "The Big Mystery"? I also question the motives of the evil forces/evildoer in this movie. What did he/she/they/it hope to gain with all this possessed videotape stuff? Why not just zap people with your magic death ray?
Perhaps I'm just asking too many questions of The Ring (if I had a son as creepy as Watt's kid, I'd probably watch that videotape too). At least for once a big-budget Hollywood movie is trying to be scary, no questions asked. My guess is that its real appeal is due to the fact that everyone involved plays it totally straight. It's got some cool scenes, great atmosphere and for once isn't all about postmodern irony and hip humor. I'm not as sold on its merits as much as the film's ever-expanding cult, but at least for once we have a mainstream horror flick that matters.