ninth symphony films - movie reviews

THE RING (2002)

DIRECTOR  -  gore verbinski

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  horror

LENGTH  -  109 minutes

RELEASED  -  18 october 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  touchstone pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the ring

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $60,000,000
the ring - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the ring at

buy the dvd from the ring at

a female journalist discovers a disturbing videotape with a bizarre history... everyone who's seen its contents has died within seven days. is she next?

a remake of one of the highest grossing japanese films of all time.


picture from the ring

picture from the ring

picture from the ring


three out of four possible stars

Creepier than your average fright-fest, The Ring packs quite a psychological punch that will have you staring hesitantly at your television screen for weeks after you see it. While the premise of this film doesn't strike one, off the bat, as being particularly scary (a videotape that kills?), the execution of this film is what makes it so entertaining. Combining just about every used and abused technique of standard horror films (excepting topless women and chainsaws), The Ring makes those elements seem so much more frightening than they should be.

How many times have we seen a terrified young woman walk up a darkened stairwell? And how many films have included a shot of a person standing in front of a refrigerator that closes only to reveal some horrible thing standing to their right? If you were to try and view this movie objectively, removing yourself from just watching the movie like another patron, ten minutes into the film, you would probably forget all about your objectiveness. Even if you try and identify every cinematic trick in this film, it still won't spoil the experience.

The first and most obvious device used in the film is the large emphasis placed on cinematography. While it never becomes annoying in the least, it is easy to see that there was a specific effort placed on shot composition. Meaning, the way elements appeared in each shot, like where the actors were placed relative to their surroundings and how the buildings were personified through the use of high and low angles. Just by the where a character stands in a shot, the audience can understand how that character is feeling. There's almost a symbiosis between the camera and the actors. The two are very much related to one another and really complete the overall creepy feeling of the film.

Another aspect involving what the audiences sees is the use of high rise buildings in the Pacific Northwest city that about half of the film takes place in. Naomi Watts, who plays the lead character, lives in a very tall, modern building with her son, and their apartment is very dark and gray. This urban setting is quite a contrast to other parts of the film which take place in a very rural, log cabin area of a forest. Both these locations are so different from one another, and yet they both carry a lot of dread for the characters.

And speaking of characters, the performances in this film also add to the overall feeling that this movie is much more than a standard slasher or horror movie. While the devices used to scare the characters might be familiar, the ability to look genuinely afraid comes easily to this cast and in her leading role, Naomi Watts is a strong focal point. Hers is an active character, meaning she's never one to just sit by and "hope the monster doesn't get her." Joining her with an equally solid performance is New Zealander Martin Henderson, who plays a man with a lot of knowledge of videotape who has a history with Watt's character. And David Dorfman, who plays Watt's wide-eyed son gives a performance on par with the older members of the cast.

The fact that this movie's plot seems like it would belong to a run-of-the-mill slasher movie is quite interesting, given that the film plays like anything but. In point of fact, this film is so much more subtle than an out and out horror film that it's more reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs, which was a more psychological thriller than anything else. But what is unique about The Ring is that it's not terrifically smart, it's just very entertaining. No one will be bowled over by the intelligence in this film or dialogue in the script, but with the way the movie plays on the screen, there really isn't any need for this film to be unlike anything that's been seen before.

That's this film's biggest success. The filmmakers took every single well-known horror trick in the book and put together one of the scariest movies in years. It might be worth noting that this film supposedly went through a series of re-shoots and a heavy edit because early audiences did not like the ambiguous and more spiritual ending of the film. Although this author didn't see that first cut, whatever the problems were, the editor fixed them completely. Though there are a few leaps in logic that the viewer will have to take, those leaps don't become apparent until after the movie has already ended.

That the audience won't realize they've had to take those leaps until after they've paid for their tickets is a small element of genius. As an experience in the theater, this film grips the audience with an iron hand and doesn't let them exhale until the credits start rolling up the screen. And even then, it's possible that the characters in this film will follow those viewers home and visit them from time to time in their dreams. Or nightmares.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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