A one line review of this film would simply be `The Ring does what most scary films promise, but never deliver’. That should be enough for any scare enthusiast to justify the price of the ticket, and for the most part no one will be disappointed. I say `for the most part’ because it is tough to define what is scary for everyone, and I don’t deny that this film may not scare many people as easily as others. It must be said however that this film is probably one of the more successful scare flicks, in the spirit of movies like ‘The Exorcist’.
Well crafted, extremely well developed and perfectly executed this remake of the 1998 Japanese Horror film ‘Ringu’ is one movie to fit into your top 10 scare flicks. Disturbing from start to end the film quite effectively leaves you writhing in your seat, grasping a loved one until its gripping conclusion without a single piece of gore at all. An art often lost on modern films and obviously inspired by the original (I have not seen the original), the subtle approach to making these kinds of films is delivered to the screen close to an eerie perfection.
The Ring is about a tape, a tape that features some rather disturbing yet very `student film’ like snapshots of what can only be described as someone’s nightmare. The problem is when the tape concludes, the phone rings and a voice tells you that you will die in exactly seven days. When four teenagers die, simultaneously at 10pm exactly seven days after secretly staying at a secluded cabin a reporter named Rachel, who was the mother of a boy named Aidan, who was a cousin to one of the girls decides to investigate. Partially motivated by the will of the dead girls parents to find an answer as to how their daughter’s heart simply stopped, Rachel successfully finds the tape the group watched. Unfortunately for her, she watches it and to her horror she receives a phone call, she now has seven days to solve the puzzle or end up like the others. What follows is an exposition mystery about the chilling origins of the tape, and the power behind the sudden death of each viewer.
Notably, there is nothing terribly exceptional about the acting in this film, it is by no means truly award worthy. It is however extremely well suited to the film and very well executed. Naomi Watts as Rachel holds up very well as the centrepiece of the film and remains a constant link to the audience making the drama more real. Martin Hendersen as the X-Husband Noah was quite well played and David Dorfman as Aidan was not only well cast, but will most likely go on to be apart of many more films that involve a child like this (very much like the Sixth Sense).
The most notable part of this film is its visual and auditory construction, which is responsible for creating most of the tension and scares in the film. There is a great deal in the sound design that will go unnoticed by the average movie-goer, but it features some very subtle sound ranging from scratching to moans and groans and a few other twisted noises. These are woven into the films music to create a deep sense of abnormality during the films more freaky moments and mood sequences.
The visual aspects of the film are close to perfect, a delightful blend of colour that looks digitally graded as opposed to filtered. A strong cold blue dominated throughout the entire film, very rarely mixed with any warmth at all, with the exception of a few scenes. The autumn colours are used quite sharply in contrast to the cold to create another level of abnormality that accompanies the sound design and makes certain aspects of the film standout quite deliberately. From there the camera captures the direction on screen perfectly and with some very well paced editing you end up with a visual treat as much as a formidable film. Much of the story is told with the camera and most of the stories best moments come from effective use of visuals.
I am afraid now that I can’t go on without spoiling the film, except to say that the climax is one of the more simplistic yet terrifying moments I have had in a cinema. To watch the packed audience all twist in their seats, gasp and groan in a sort of painful anxiety while the events unfolded on screen was just as much of a treat as the film. This film should scare or at least in the best part disturb you, but I am not promising anything as there have been the odd one or two who claim they found nothing frightening in it at all. Still, scary or not, it is one of the better made Hollywood horror films and more importantly it does not stick to the Hollywood formula not does it give us a Hollywood ending.