The Ring


Rating 3¾

Directed by Gore Verbinski

Written by Ehren Kruger, based on 'Ringu' written by Hiroshi Takahashi, based on the book by Koji Suzuki

Starring Naomi Watts, Brian Cox, Jane Alexander, Rachael Bella and Amber Tamblyn

J-Horror films, although I’ve always associated them with the influence of the famous Val Lewton RKO films of the 1940s and things like ‘The Spiral Staircase’, are a continuation of Japanese ghost stories and Yūrei, ghosts or spirits that have not gained entry into the afterlife. In particular, the films deal with Onryō, ghosts that are able to return to the physical world to seek vengeance. The physical appearance of Onryō, ghostly white make-up and long unkempt black hair, was established during the Edo period, between 1603 and 1868.

‘The Ring’, in keeping with all other American remakes of “overseas” films, has come in for some criticism, the assumption apparently being that American filmmakers are incapable of making films of the same artistic quality as European and, in the case of the recent glut of J-Horror films, Japanese and South Korean film-makers. However, this one faired much better than most. 166 reviews collected at Rotten Tomatoes result in a 71% fresh rating. The original Japanese film gets a 100% rating from 16 reviews. However, it is worth noting that the Japanese sequel, ‘Ringu 2’, ends up with an inexplicable 0% rating from 15 reviews.

‘The Ring’ achieved a worldwide box office gross of $249 million against a production budget a little under $50 million. It was this success that led to ‘The Grudge’ and the success of that film that opened the door to ‘Dark Water’ and ‘Pulse’.

The film uses a trick borrowed from ‘Scream’ (one that ‘Urban Legend’ also used) and opens with a lengthy sequence involving a peripheral character who will meet a grizzly end and not be seen again. In this case, it’s Amber Tamblyn, in a nicely judged scene with Rachael Bella that almost pays homage to slasher films and gives the false impression that what is about to follow is a teen horror movie.

Probably the most celebrated scene in the film takes place on the ferry during the rain storm when a horse goes mad, breaks out of its horsebox, chases Rachel, the main character, played by Naomi Watts, and leaps over the bow of the boat, plunging to its death into the stormy sea below.

The film’s greatest asset, the superb visual use of the landscapes to one side, is Naomi Watts, who is an actor of exceptional talent. Her very pale and expressive features are perfect for her role here. She also starred in the 2005 sequel, which was directed by Hideo Nakata, the Japanese director of ‘Ringu 2’ and ‘Honogurai Mizu No Soko Kara’, the original version of ‘Dark Water’. I seem to be one of the few people to actually like the sequel.

‘The Ring’ was directed by Gore Verbinski, who subsequently went on to direct the three parts of the hugely successful ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ trilogy.


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