Review of The Ring

The Ring (2002)
7/10
Not without flaws, but better than the Japanese original
1 December 2003
After having seen both the original Japanese "Ringu" (1998) and its American remake "The Ring" (2002), I found the latter superior in almost every aspect (atmosphere, cinematography, effects, soundtrack, acting, pace), though the script is in the usual Frankenstein-style of contemporary U.S. horror films -- borrowed pieces from everywhere put together with visible stitches all over.

The original "Ringu" is part of the "new trend" in Japanese horror films (and since then imported by the U.S.) that goes like "when everything seems the quietest...when you're least expecting...it's precisely then that...NOTHING happens!" (add loud metallic noises). The cinema of anti-climax!! "Ringu" was full of these anti-climaxes, with an annoying slow pace, but it had other major problems: a very unsympathetic male lead character with Cronenbergian "Dead Zone" ESP powers played by a deadpan actor (in the American remake this far-fetched stuff is left out); perfectly expendable characters (such as the grandfather); several plot holes impossible to come to terms with (even more than in the US version), culminating in a very confusing third act.

The American remake has several assets of its own: a trimmer pace; lovely and charismatic British/Australian actress Naomi Watts; fine attempts at creating haunting images (the breathtaking horse sequence on the boat; Samara's psychiatric treatment; and especially the "short film on the videotape" itself, a gem of surrealistic inspiration and telegraphic efficiency -- no wonder, as director Gore Verbinski was a highly successful publicity director). However, there are some letdowns too, especially those impossible phone calls (how DO you explain them at ALL? Who cares?) and some of the cast (the male lead, insipid; and the boy who plays Naomi's son, creepy beyond any sympathy).

Not "revolutionary", but with subtler, richer shades than the usual U.S. noisy, in-your-face-special-FX brainless horror routines and much more exciting than the anti-climax Japanese modern horror films. My vote: 7 out of 10.
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