An unexpected marriage of big-budget production values and low-budget instincts, The Ring
offers chills to be savoured. Usually when Hollywood indulges its cash-hungry game of remaking foreign films the result sacrifices much of what made the original so special. Clearly, the supremely eerie supernatural vibe that permeated the legendary 1998 Japanese horror film
must have done something to those Hollywood suits, because Gore Verbinski's remake is actually rather good. Certainly, it's not superior to the original, but it's undoubtedly a cut above most modern horror efforts, expertly wringing every drop of suspense. The impressive Naomi Watts (Mullholland Drive
) plays a journalist investigating an urban myth of a videotape that kills the viewer a week after watching it. Succumbing to curiosity, she watches it herself--big mistake--and has a week to solve the mystery or fall victim to its sinister power.
While transferring the action from Japan to modern-day Seattle may weaken the impact of the plot's mythological elements, and the film may be guilty of pointless padding (belying the original's lean format), Verbinski's effort is no less squirm-inducing, bolstered with a tremendous shocker of an ending. Exquisitely utilising the strong visual sense displayed in The Mexican, Verbinski creates a thick atmosphere of dread and suspense that never lets up, thankfully favouring old-fashioned scares, rather than retreating to blunt CG spectacle. In Watts, the film has a horror heroine who far exceeds the average wide-eyed scream queen, perfectly conveying the endless stream of bone-chilling moments. --Danny Graydon
A young journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone in a week of viewing it.