“I think before you die, you see the ring…”
A cursed VHS tape which contains a short, experimental-type film surfaces causing those who watch it to be plagued by visions and die seven days later. When Seattle PI reporter Rachel Keller’s (Naomi Watts) young niece (Amber Tamblyn) dies purportedly after watching the tape, Rachel’s sister begs her to get to the bottom of it. But, after seeing the tape for herself, Rachel unwittingly sets in motion the wrath of the cursed tape. With only seven days to live, can Rachel unravel the mystery of the tape before it exacts its violent price?
In 2002, Director Gore Verbinski brought us his vision of The Ring, based on a novel by Koji Suzuki and later adapted into a Japanese horror film better known as Ringu. Verbinski’s version, which released on October 27, 2002 was the last film that truly terrified me in the cinema. I was away at university at the time and I’d decided it’d be fun to see it on Halloween night. Some of my friends had already gone to see the film and the were, damnably tight-lipped about the film. Saying I was at university doesn’t necessarily mean I was young, innocent, or naive. As it so happens, the case was quite the opposite.
I’d been a fan of Naomi Watts for years, since first seeing her as Jet in the train wreck that was the film adaptation of my beloved Tank Girl. Watts, who stars in The Ring as Rachel, is one of the main reasons the film is able to maintain its deliberately tension-building pace through to its devastating conclusion. Her performance is gripping and you’ll lose yourself in her character’s quest to save her son, Aidan (David Dorfman), from the fate of the cursed tape.
Beyond that, the film is a visual feast and set in my native homeland, the Pacific Northwest. The wet environs lends itself well to the watery motifs used throughout the film, in addition to creating a dreary, hopeless landscape full of despair. Verbinski plays with light the way few directors choose to, and yes it can be heavy handed, as if he is intentionally calling into question the reality of the world in which the characters now find themselves. But, be that as it may, the imagery of The Ring is striking enough to burn itself indelibly into your mind.
One of the things we hadn’t seen up to this point is any given number of films that were able to successfully crossover between fiction and the real world. It was this crossing of the boundary between what we perceived to be the film and what we knew to be our reality, that helped draw people to the theater.
Many people, laughingly or not, left their particular showing of The Ring and went home wondering if they had but seven days to live until they would begin seeing Samara (played by Daveigh Chase) as well. Seeing the film, and thereby seeing the ring in the movie, punctured through to our own reality. It made us stop and wonder. It made us question. It had blended and blurred the line between our world and Verbinski’s work of fiction.
It’s funny, obviously, in retrospect, but it speaks to the spectacle that was Gore Verbinksi’s The Ring and it earns it a place in the annals of truly great horror film making.
The Ring also deserves a mention because it skid by with a PG-13 rating from the MPAA despite being one of the most terrifying films of the early 2000s. The rating made the film accessible to a larger audience of people, meaning, like the VHS tape that is circulated in the film itself, no one was really safe from The Ring.
1.) Yes. As with other films on the list, The Ring offers several moral standards by which, had the characters chosen to live, they would have escaped the wrath of Samara. Primarily, the desire for more than what has been afforded them by nature (the repeated miscarriages of Anna Morgan), and then reckless curiosity.
2.) Yes. Younger viewers may have trouble after the film, especially if someone in their party is snarky enough to sneak away during the end credits and give them a call on their cell.
3.) Yes. There are notable moments in The Ring where you will be startled but the basic formula to watch out for are appearances of Samara or glitches (VHS tape noise) that the filmmakers have woven into the film.
Don’t Look Here:
Online: The Ring
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Is The Ring rotten or fresh?
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Watch or buy The Ring on Amazon
Related: The Ring 3D in production
Related: Mark Reviews The Ring