Halloween Review– The Ring

Koji Suzuki’s 1989 novel started a phenomenon, which includes two Japanese adaptations and sequels, a Korean remake, graphic novels, a musical— and Hollywood’s The Ring.

The first half of this film is nearly identical to Ringu, transplanted to America. The second half diverges in significant ways.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Director: Gore Verbinski

Writers: Koji Suzuki, Ehren Kruger.

Features: Naomi Watts…Rachel Keller
Martin Henderson…Noah Clay
David Dorfman …Aidan Keller
Jane Alexander…Dr. Grasnik
Brian Cox…Richard Morgan
Shannon Cochran…Anna Morgan
Daveigh Chase…Samara Morgan

Available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca

Premise:

A sinister videotape circulates. If you watch it, you will die in seven days. A reporter tracks the tape to an island and the mystery of Samara Morgan, a missing girl no one’s trying to find.

High Points:

The videotape. If the images on this tape don’t make you uneasy, you may not be human. They’re creepier than the Japanese version. My friend, Singularity Girl actually found it difficult to watch the spoof of this videotape in Scary Movie II, so badly did the original shake her.

Not only do these images ultimately appear as we uncover the truth, the film features frequent visual echoes of the imagery, a technique which induces suspense and paranoia.

Low Points:

The gratuitous Samara-related effects and abilities such as, for example, the fly that crawls off the screen, or the mysterious cloud of flies that emerge when they uncover the ring. It’s not enough that this version doesn’t fully explain the mystery: they had to throw in additional elements that look cool, but make no sense.

Due to the limited explanation and the manner in which the ending is scripted, the final twist plays a little too much like a cheap joke at our expense. The conclusion remains creepy, but the Japanese version handles it much better.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 .

Effects: 5/6.

Story: 4/6: This movie will certainly disturb you. Its handling of the story, however, leaves unanswered questions and plot holes. Most obvious on the list: how did Cabin #12 get built on its present location?

Acting: 5/6: Well-done all around, though Dorfman plays (and was obviously written and directed to play) little Aidan too creepily sophisticated to no real end.

Production: 5/6

Emotional Response: 5/6 Flaws aside, this film will haunt you for awhile.

Overall: 5/6.

In total, The Ring receives 32/42.

Ringu and The Ring

Ringu fully develops its backstory and also the implications of that story. The effects are never gratuitous, as is the case in The Ring; they all relate to the backstory. The approach to the material also differs. In Japan, both Shizuko and Sadako have been studied– of course they have– and this fact, while not widely-known, can certainly be uncovered without too much effort. In The Ring, we’re left largely in the dark as to Samara’s true origin, and along with vital clues, we receive creepy effects which have no clear connection to the story. However, we do receive some disturbing insights into Miss Morgan’s childhood that are missing from Ringu, and these have a haunting effect of their own.

In Ringu, any number of people know (and anyone can learn) that Sadako existed though, of course, they would not connect her to the videotape. Secrecy surrounds Anna Morgan, however; The Ring gives us sealed medical records, stolen evidence, and conspiracies of silence.

In Ringu, the story of the cursed videotape has spread far and wide though people take it no more seriously than most urban myths. In The Ring, the story does not appear to be too widely-known though it is clearly in circulation.

The Japanese version has a tighter and (if taken on its own terms) more believable story. The American version has creepier visuals. In the end, however, Ringu and The Ring are so similar that the scarier of the two will be the first one you see.

Perhaps Electric Ferret should pit Yamamura Sadako against Samara Morgan. It could be the greatest thing since Godzila vs King Kong. Of course, I’ve already proffered my version of the epic battle’s outcome, in the year 2004.

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13 replies on “Halloween Review– The Ring”

  1. pdavis says:

    Tell me more
    Would anyone mind telling me more about this movie, spoilers and all? I am intrigued by it but don’t really like horror moves.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: Tell me more

      This should pretty much cover your questions.

      • pdavis says:

        Re: Tell me more
        Excellent, exactly what I was looking for. Sounds like a good creepy movie. But, I’m wondering why they didn’t go to a priest:)

        • dgswensen says:

          Re: Tell me more

          Excellent, exactly what I was looking for. Sounds like a good creepy movie. But, I’m wondering why they didn’t go to a priest:)

          The protagonist is not a religious person.

  2. Damien says:

    I liked it
    I must admit that I thouht it was extremely atmospheric and had me in goosebumps for most of it. We even insisted that visitors hide for five minute while my wife and I finished watching it X-) Good movie, but I do intend watching Ringu to get more of the original story.

    Damien

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: I liked it

      Good movie, but I do intend watching Ringu to get more of the original story.

      One version of it, anyway. In the novel, Sadako is a teenager who ends up, well, in tight quarters, under very different circumstances, and a male reporter tracks the story.

  3. y42 says:

    I don’t like horror movies, they bore me.

    This movie will certainly disturb you.

    If so, then you should listen to the Violent Femme’s “Country Death Song”, it’ll
    keep you awake at night.

    My own highpoint was the “fly off the screen” thing (because it was cool), and
    low point was “where did those thousands of flies go?” after they had
    escaped. I mean, there should have been a few that lounged around, flies
    don’t swarm away in seconds like that. They buzz impotently in windows for
    hours and such…

    Anyway, since I’m mostly bored by cinematic efforts to scare me, I spent parts
    of this movie looking at the theatre’s ceiling and walls, I remember the
    temperature more vividly than most scenes (it was damn cold). Call me
    desensitized.

    P.S. I don’t know what’s in the review queue for halloween, but I hope Michael
    Jackson’s “Thriller” is in there (I was young enough to be scared by THAT
    when I first saw it).

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: I don’t like horror movies, they bore me.

      People who don’t like violins shouldn’t attend performances of a string quartet, no?

      • y42 says:

        Re: I don’t like horror movies, they bore me.

        People who don’t like violins shouldn’t attend performances of a string
        quartet, no?

        I know, but people kept pestering me about it, you know how it is (I went with
        a
        friend. She was bored too).
        I just wanted to
        put in my two cents about the violent femmes ad the disapearing fly swarm. :
        )

        • Timeshredder says:

          Re: I don’t like horror movies, they bore me.

          On another note, I’m pretty sure we’re not reviewing Thriller, but I could see where that might be scary when, in the introduction, he tells his girlfriend, “I’m not like other boys.” Brrrr

          This has been Michael Jackson Cheap Shot #57. Collect them all!

          • y42 says:

            Re: I don’t like horror movies, they bore me.

            On another note, I’m pretty sure we’re not reviewing Thriller, but
            I could see where that might be scary when, in the introduction, he tells his
            girlfriend, “I’m not like other boys.” Brrrr

            This has been Michael Jackson Cheap Shot #57. Collect them all!

            lol!

            But, its got Vincent Price innit! And break dancing zombies. AND a werewolf!
            And, as you mentioned, the ever scary Michael “Jesus Juice” Jackson!
            Its not halloween without Vincent Price…

            • fiziko says:

              Re: I don’t like horror movies, they bore me.

              It’s not halloween without Vincent Price…

              He plays a small role in the October 22 review.

  4. dgswensen says:

    My take
    I saw both the Japanese and American versions of these movies, and I thought that while the American version had a more engaging plot and more of a “story,” the Japanese version was much scarier. Mostly due to the fact that the American version sorely overdid its “scary” moments with lots of CGI and jump-cuts. It didn’t need doing. The simple, spooky climax of the Japanese version was ten times more effective.

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