The Ring (2002)

(In theaters, October 2002) It had been a long, long time since we’d seen a true horror film in theatres, after years of winky “satires”, insipid serial killers and cold-hearted attempts at Special Effects scares. (The Haunting, anyone? Does anyone still remember that one?) It’s a bit of a bother that Americans had to remake a Japanese horror film in order to come up with something good, but look at it this way: It’s not only a creepy film, but it’s also a decent adaptation. How scary is that? Horror films should work both in-theatre and some time after you’ve seen it, and The Ring scores twice, first by causing chills and then by working on your mind. The result might depend on a lot of cheap tactics (jump cuts, quasi-subliminal frames, loud noises and nightmarish images) but oh, does it work…! (Do note, however, that one of the best chills of the entire film comes from a very simple dialogue scene… “She never sleeps”) Sitting close to the screen in a loud theatre for The Ring is a lot like being clobbered on the head by a 2×4 throughout the film. The film might lose its potency on a small-screen setup. Or it may not: The Ring mixes familiar technology with supernatural horror to produce not only evil VHS tapes, but something that works specifically on jaded horror junkies. Performance-wise, props go to Naomi Watts and to the kid, who manages to be all-knowing and pathetic-looking while still being interesting. Nobody expected Gore Verbinski (The Mexican… eh…) to deliver something like this. I don’t care if he ripped-off half the original film: his version works, and it works very well even if you can figure out the tricks he’s using. Horror fan rejoice, and enjoy!

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