Paramount // 2002 // 115 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // March 23rd, 2012
Watch if you dare!
Oh, those wacky Japanese horror filmmakers, always taking little kids and making them creepier than your single uncle hanging around the kid's table at a family reunion. Hopping on board the remake train, Hollywood decided to adapt as many Asian horror flicks as they could before the genre's inevitable burn out. The one that started it all -- and the best, according to most horror fans -- is director Gore Verbinski's 2002 reboot of Hideo Nakata's Ringu, retitled The Ring, now on Blu-ray care of Paramount Home Entertainment.
There's a VHS tape making the rounds and it's a real killer...literally. If you watch the tape, you get a phone call where a voice says you "seven days," and when a week is up...you're dead. When Rachel (Naomi Watts, King Kong) finds her son (David Dorfman) drawing strange pictures at school, it's clear something is amiss. Given that Rachel's niece, Katie (Amber Tamblyn, Joan of Arcadia), died under mysterious circumstances, it dawns on her that someone -- or something -- is taking the lives of whoever watches this bizzare VHS tape. Thus, Rachel -- a local journalist with a nose for fishy situations -- sets out to discover the history behind the tape and finds herself in a race against time. She's seen the killer movie, received the phone call, and knows in seven days time is up.
The Ring was the start the J-horror craze that ran a good six years until the genre drove itself into the ground...because most of the movies sucked. The Grudge, Dark Water, One Missed Call, and Pulse all hit theaters to rapidly diminishing results. It didn't help that all of them received negative critical reviews. My personal issue with most of these movies is that a) they move at a snails pace, b) are rated PG-13 thus neutering the horror, and c) feel like carbon copies of each other. All focus on some technological device (video tape, cell phone) that brings about an unseen evil, often in the form of a kid just barely out of diapers. Yawn...
As a horror fan, I'd never actually sat through this remake until being assigned this review. Ten years on and I somehow missed this classic everyone was talking about. And yet, somehow I knew every beat, saw every scare coming, and couldn't help giggling throughout the entire film. Why? Because I've seen Scary Movie 3 (oh shut up, I think it's funny), which lampooned the film and gave me the entire story (with Leslie Nielson no less) that I might as well have seen The Ring a dozen times already. In other words, there were forces preventing me from ever digging Verbinski's groove.
The Ring is slow going for a horror movie. It's all shine and no substance, lacking any momentum when it comes to scares. Little Samara doesn't generate much tension; waddling around looking wet and dirty, it's as if she rolled around on a wet lawn and is hoping to find a towel. Verbinski -- who helmed the far better but bloated Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy and the animated Rango -- sets up most of the scares with the requisite stinger sound effect or fake out; someone looking in a fridge, then the door shutting to reveal...something! Or nothing! Or both! Plus, it's riddled with stock horror characters and endless clichés. However, there is one very disturbing sequence involving an escaped horse on a river ferry, which plays out like an equestrian nightmare. If the rest of the film had the same energy and tension, it may have become something truly spectacular.
Naomi Watts is the star but spends most of her time looking pretty and asking a lot of questions. You never get the impression she was giving her acting chops much of a workout. Brian Cox (Rushmore) turns in the best performance, as Samara's father. Cox is one of those brilliant actors who just gets better and more mesmerizing with age.
Paramount's work on The Ring (Blu-ray) is great and should leave fans happy. Presented in 1.85:1/1080p high definition widescreen, the visual quality is uniformly excellent, bathed in blues, blacks, and greens and looking stunning. I didn't notice any defects or issues that would mar the enjoyment of the film. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is an immersive experience, offering a number of moments where all of the speakers kick in and ambient effects take control, like flies buzzing and stinger noises that will make you jump. This release also includes Dolby 5.1 French, Portuguese, Spanish language tracks, as well as English,, French, Portuguese, and Spanish subtitles.
The bonus features are all ported from the previous DVD release including deleted scenes ("Don't Watch This"), a short film ("Rings" in HD), odd feaurettes ("Cursed Video," and "The Origin of Terror"), cast and crew interviews, and a trailer for the film.
It should be noted this release is a Best Buy Exclusive, which means it won't be made available to other retail outlets for several months. So if you're having trouble tracking it down, go to BestBuy.com and have it sent to your local store for pickup.
Take my opinion with a grain of salt. I have friends who believe The Ring is one of the scariest movies on the planet. I also have friends who were terrified by the Jan DeBont remake The Haunting...so maybe I should take back what I just said. Look, I get it. We all have things that scare us. For some, it's creepy little kids with bad fingernails and gnarly teeth. For others, its zombies and Pauly Shore. Either way, The Ring is passable entertainment and little else.
Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Short Film