The Ring, 2002
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox
An American remake of the Japanese film Ringu, The Ring is about Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts, Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), a journalist, who, after investigating the mysterious deaths of four teenagers, accidentally stumbles across a tape which kills you seven days after watching it. Initially sceptical of the tape, she shows it to her ex-partner (and the absent father to her child), Noah Clay (Martin Henderson), and the two try to discover the history of the tape and the way of breaking the curse before their time is up.
It had a lacklustre sequel (The Ring Two, 2005), and an even worse third instalment (Rings, 2017), but those shouldn’t take away from how good a film this is. The Ring is also credited as being the first major horror remake of a Japanese horror, paving the way for films such as The Grudge to come overseas (although my review of that film will be the original Japanese Ju-on: The Grudge, allowing for one Japanese original and one American remake in this list).
Firstly, Naomi Watts is fantastic in this film, and the characterisation really helps. She’s a journalist and uses her journalism skills to help solve the mystery, and while it is a little coincidental that Noah works with tapes, it still helps them discover tiny parts of the tape and its lore which naturally progresses the film. And one of the things I love about this film is how it doesn’t utilise jump scares, it instead sues the tape and the discoveries as the basis for the horror, and it really work; I’ve seen this film countless times but Samara crawling from the television set or the horse freaking out and jumping off the boat are still scary moments. They also give Samara a good back-story which makes us empathise with the villain, and the faces, which we only see extremely briefly (which is brilliant), of the victims make us frightened of her, too, and both of these mixed well gives a terrifically created villain.
And quite possibly the scariest part is the very end, with the realisation of how to stop Samara getting to you within seven days. Aiden Keller (David Dorfman), Rachel and Noah’s son, speaks the final line of dialogue in this film and the ramifications of what he says (although butchered and ruined with films such as Rings) is frightening. Easily one of the best horror films of modern times, for its approach, lack of jump scares, villain and the deaths, this is one American remake which took everything from the Japanese version and made a very fine horror film with the same quality (unlike The Grudge, which took everything from Ju-on: The Grudge and ruined it).
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