Directed by: Gore Verbinski

Written by: Ehren Kruger

Starring: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Jane Alexander, Brian Cox

Rating: [3.5/5]

Ideas deemed scary carry a level of subjectivity as it comes with an individuality of what terrifies each person. A whole list of phobias exists that will undoubtedly cause specific subject matter to impact some more than others, but what gets displayed in The Ring should frighten everyone as it creates a truly terrifying circumstance with a memorable narrative along with it. 

After the mysterious deaths of young girls following them watching a tape, Rachel (Naomi Watts), a journalist goes on the hunt to figure out what caused these tragic events. She finds the tape and watches the disturbing imagery and receives a phone stating she has seven days revealing a terrifying predicament. 

The inherent terror within The Ring comes from how it can happen to anyone and not some predetermined horror specified towards one individual. All it takes to have this terrible affliction placed upon you is watching a tape anyone could theoretically get their hands on. Nothing at all special or destined that allows one to think twice the next time they put in a VHS in their VCR to make sure you’re not accidentally putting in the wrong tape. This concept brings a sense of real fear where you know it’s not real, but in the back of your head you never really want to verify the belief. Something appearing innocuous at first but then unleashes an evil one cannot escape unless making some difficult decisions. The imagery in the tape alone could give some nightmares but what happens to the individuals who watch it with the induced paranoia and fear of what will occur in seven days. 

This conceit became quite the phenomenon at the time and I can surely attest the concept of this feature served as the subject of many nightmares and fear of ever seeing static on a television screen. Others can certainly say the same, which speaks to what The Ring accomplishes. Serving as an American remake of the Japanese film by Hiroshi Takahashi, this feature surely stands as one of the better adaptations of how to take a story from overseas and adjust it to American sensibilities while still keeping the elements that work.

With all of the scares enacted in this feature, it still has an intriguing investigative element to it adding another level of entertainment value. This exists as standard practice for horror films where the central issue comes from something supernatural needing some investigation. The more we learn about it, the truth of the matter gets more terrifying especially when others in her life get intermingled with this tape and its effects. This makes the investigation even more vital. 

As much as the horror of the feature involves terror enacted by a being, the main undercurrent of the narrative centers on parenting. Rachel must combat the troubles of it when her son gets wrapped into this situation but also when we discover the imagery in the videotape and the individuals displayed in it exist and the familial issues involved with it. Certainly indicating the troubles of being a parent, especially when your child has the type of ability displayed by this haunting child, it shows how much the weight of parenting hangs over these characters. It amplifies the danger for more than just how it impacts a parent like Rachel but if the repercussions make their way down to the children as well. 

Naomi Watts’s career, on the whole, feels like a disappointment because of the questionable roles she has taken but this dismay mostly exists because when she gets strong material she shows her incredible talent and shines in ways she always should. Her collaboration with Gore Verbinski in this film allows her to handle the weight of the scares this feature has to offer while also delivering some compelling work with how this mystery operates. 

Terrifying on multiple levels, The Ring takes such a brilliant idea to get under the skin of all who watch it and creates something wholly memorable. The film sets up an intriguing affliction occurring to individuals who simply watch a tape and the clock runs with the limit imposed by the spirit causing all of this harm. You will never look at a VHS tape or static on television the same way as I can truly attest.

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