OK. It's important to know where a reviewers bench mark is before you judge where they are coming from. So let me say that I saw Ringu a year back and it really freaked me out. So as you can imagine I came to this half expecting it to be a rubbish remake of a film that I didn't see any need to remake. However it was better than I had feared and probably will stand out as one of the best horror movies of 2003 (when it is released in the UK). The plot has changed slightly from the original but not really to the detriment of the film it actually helps it be more modern and more believable now that it's in America.
The film's main problem for me was the fact that it went for the `jump scares' rather than `creepy scares' which Ringu had. Here we have more sudden movements where Ringu moved slowly and deliberately. Ring does this well at points too, but for most it will always go for the jump rather than the unnerving creep. However I defy anyone not to get a little creeped out by the remake as well. If I hadn't seen Ringu I know I would have enjoyed this more but I only kept remembering how well it was done in the first place. For example THAT scene (viewers will know what I mean) is too quick and too jumpy in Ring whereas in Ringu it was slow, deliberate and terrifying in it's sheer unnerving horror. Likewise in ring we see the child'' face a lot more which detracts from the fear of the unknown in Ringu it was more of the long hair.
The performances are not as good as Ringu in some respects. Watts is very good and is believably scared. Henderson is OK but I wanted a more mature man rather than a surfer-dude type. The support cast were all good, with Brian Cox thrown into the mix. My only pause for concern was Dorfman why was he allowed to change the character of the boy? In Ringu he was a normal kid, here he comes across like a poor man's Haley Joel Osmond in 6th Sense? His routine took away from the emotional involvement that should have come with the danger he was in instead he just comes across as difficult. The performance is OK but 1, the change to the character is strange and unnecessary and 2, it just felt a little too like the 6th Sense!
Overall I enjoyed the film and was scared at some points. However too often it went for the jump rather than just being consistently unnerving as Ringu was. Fans of Ringu may dislike this but I think those who haven't seen the original will enjoy this. Word of advice though go out and find a copy of the original and watch it first, you'll enjoy it a lot more and it'll show you why Hollywood fell over themselves to try and copy it in a more commercial way.